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Microsoft says the internet is the nicest it's been since 2016. Obviously they didn't look at The Reg comments

Women, on the other hand, haven't seen much difference

The internet is a lovely place? Perhaps not, but online civility has improved since 2016, according to research from Microsoft.

Lest we forget, 2016 was when Microsoft unleashed its potty-mouthed swearbot Tay onto the world before swiftly pulling the plug when it became clear that its social media experiment had gone full Nazi after exposure to those nice people on the world wide web.

2016 was also when Microsoft kicked off its Civility, Safety and Interaction Online survey. 2022's update, replete with a Digital Civility Index (DCI) score, looks across four categories: Reputational (doxing and the like), Behavioral (trolling, harassment and bullying), Personal/Intrusive (misogyny, scams, extremist content) and sexual (unwanted sexting, receiving unwanted attention and so on).

The results of the survey feed into a DCI score (from zero to 100). The lower the score, the lower the risk and the higher the perceived civility.

If this year's score of 65 per cent does not look like much to write home about to you, consider that it is an improvement of two per cent from last year, according to Microsoft, and the best since the survey began in 2016.

Some 90 per cent of that year-on-year improvement was accounted for by men. Women respondents, on the other hand, experienced almost 60 per cent of the risks reported in 2021 ("an all time high," said Microsoft) "and were also more likely to have experienced consequences, worry or pain due to being treated uncivilly."

Interestingly, despite the drop in DCI the perceptions of civility actually worsened, with 30 per cent reporting that things had got worse during the pandemic and an increase of 7 and 5 per cent of respondents reporting "I see more people taking out their frustrations online" and "I see less tolerance of other people" respectively. There was a drop of 11 per cent people feeling "we're all in this together."

And that was in 2021. Goodness knows what that rating is after the last few weeks of global tensions rising.

So while the DCI score has improved over the 11,000 individuals surveyed in 22 countries, the improvement is not equally distributed and women are bearing the greater burden of risk online.

More work clearly needs to be done. ®

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