People Are Nicer Online In the U.S. Than In Russia

February 8, 2017, 2:00 AM UTC
Photograph by Getty Images/Cultura RF

People are nicer to each other online in the U.S. than in Mexico and Russia.

That’s one of the takeaways from a Microsoft (MSFT) study released Tuesday about online behavior worldwide.

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In general, respondents in countries where the Internet is less mature said they experienced more harassment and pestering. Russia and South Africa ranked the highest when it comes to online harassment, according to the survey, while Mexico led the way in people sending and receiving unwanted sexual messages.

Survey respondents who said that they had uncomfortable online interactions cited being contacted by random people, getting trolled or harassed by others, and receiving unwanted sexually explicit messages. In China, people were especially concerned about doxxing, which refers to people maliciously posting private information about others online.

People seem to be the nicest online in the United Kingdom, Australia, and the U.S., the survey showed.

Microsoft said that Facebook (FB) was the “primary platform for online risks across all countries,” but it did not mention the popular social messaging service Twitter in its survey. Twitter, which has been slammed by critics who say it fails to crack down online abusers, said Tuesday that it would take additional steps to prevent people who have been banned by the service from creating new accounts.

Last year, online pranksters ruined a Microsoft research project involving a chatbot that was powered by artificial intelligence by engaging in offensive conversations with it. After the chatbot took in the racist, sexist, and other inflammatory comments, it began to use similar language in its responses, which led Microsoft to abandon the project.

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In December, Microsoft debuted a similar chatbot through the online messaging app Kik.

Microsoft’s findings about online behavior was based on an online survey in June of roughly 5,000 people in countries like Australia, China, France, Germany, and South Africa. For the survey, Microsoft asked questions about how people felt about their online safety and the nature of the interactions they have with people online, and what made them uncomfortable.

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