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Almost Half of U.S. Internet Users Have Experienced Online Harassment, Study Shows

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Almost half of U.S. teen and adult internet users say they have experienced online harassment or abuse, a new report shows.

The study, carried out by the Data & Society Research Institute and Center for Innovative Public Health Research, found that 47% of Americans have personally experienced at least one of 20 forms of harassing behavior.

The types of harassment were divided into three categories: digital harassment (e.g. being called offensive names), invasion of privacy (e.g. being hacked or impersonated) and denial of access (e.g. technical attacks that overwhelm a device, site, server or platform and prevent access).

Although men and women are equally likely to face online harassment, the study showed, women experience a wider variety of online abuse, including more serious violations. The report also revealed that sexual minorities (those who identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual) are more likely to experience online harassment—and are more likely to be affected by it.

Black and young Americans—especially young women— are also more likely to experience online harassment, and more likely to say they self-censor what they post online in order to avoid harassment.

The findings of the study, called “Online Harassment, Digital Abuse, and Cyberstalking in America,” were based on the results of a survey of 3,002 U.S. citizens aged 15 and older, conducted from May 17 to July 31 this year.

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Write to Kate Samuelson at kate.samuelson@time.com