According to a study carried out by Ofcom, the UK's communications regulator, 45 per cent of all people who've used the internet have suffered some kind of "harm" online. That harm includes trolling, harassment or cyber-bullying as well as things like malware attacks and cyber theft.
Honestly, I'm surprised it's only half. You've only got to accidentally find yourself in an internet forum or stumble onto the wrong thread in Twitter before your entire being is insulted in some way or another. And let's not even mention online games, where some 12-year-old has undoubtedly told you your mum's fat. And as for malware, surely more than 45 per cent of internet users have clicked that attachment on the "URGENT!!!" email in their mailbox from some johnboy0481 or ended up on some suspect-looking website after searching for, er, things that they shouldn't be.
Ofcom's findings were based on a survey size of 2,000 UK residents with an aim to try and find out the primary types and severity of harm caused online. The focus was on four key areas: data and privacy, cyber-security and hacking, online content that people can see, hear or watch, and interactions with other users. Around a fifth of those surveyed said they'd encountered something "very harmful" online. And a fifth of people revealed they'd reported the harmful content when they encountered it.
These results have been released just before Ofcom's boss, Sharon White, speaks at the Royal Television Society. She's expected to talk about how online harm is on the rise due to a lack of regulation. [BBC]