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Microsoft Survey Shows Online Civility is Declining During the Pandemic

The internet, hardly a place where respect and friendliness are obvious. Microsoft says online civility continues to fall during the pandemic.


More people are online than ever. Sure, that was a trend surging upwards for years, but the pandemic accelerated the growth. Increasing numbers work online, and global lockdowns means people have been seeking all their recreation online. Unfortunately, the internet has also lived up to its reputation and Microsoft shows online civility has been going down during 2021.

As we move further into the second year of the pandemic, it seems online civility is dwindling. A survey of 11,067 people across 22 countries by shows 82% of the countries were seeing net-worse net civility during the COVID crisis.

Microsoft surveyed age groups between 13 and 74 and asked about 21 common online risks spread across four categories: behavioral, personal, reputational, and sexual. Germany, Poland, Philippines, Hungary, and Italy showed the biggest decline in online civility. Four nations – Peru, Mexico, India, and Colombia – displayed net-positive results.

17% of people says they had observed an improvement in online civility, although 30% said it was worse. This is compared to 26% and 22% in 2020.



Other important notes to take from the survey include:

  • ““A greater sense of community” tumbled 12 percentage points to 50% from 62% in 2020;
  • “People have been more encouraging to each other” dropped eight percentage points to 49% from 57% last year; and
  • “People have come together more to deal with the crisis” was down six percentage points to 53% from 59% in the previous study.
  • People are taking out their frustrations online” was up seven percentage points to 67%;
  • “People are less tolerant” edged up to 59% from 54% last year; and
  • 54% of respondents said they had experienced or witnessed more personal attacks and negative comments this year compared to 53% in 2020.”

While it is a meme to say people are just nastier to each other online, it is still disappointing to have it proved. Microsoft says a full report focused on the survey will be published on February 8, 2022, which is Safer Internet Day.

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If you want to change that, check out our detailed BitLocker guide where we show you how to turn on encryption for your system disk or any other drive you might be using in your computer.

Luke Jones
Luke Jones
Luke has been writing about all things tech for more than five years. He is following Microsoft closely to bring you the latest news about Windows, Office, Azure, Skype, HoloLens and all the rest of their products.

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