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Study finds online trolling is costing Australians $3.7 billion

Illustration by Twylamae
Words by Maeve Kerr-Crowley

Enough is enough.

Raise your hand if you have ever felt personally victimised by someone online.

According to a study by The Australia Institute, more than one in three internet users across the country have experienced online harassment or abuse.

The study was commissioned by Ginger Gorman, author of the book Troll Hunting. Through her writing, she discovered that little research had been done into the social and economic impacts of cyber hate.

Cyber hate can be financially demanding, with 4% of participants saying online trolling led them to seek help from a doctor. The same number of people said it had led to taking time off work.

When tallying up these healthcare costs and lost income, researchers found that online harassment had cost Australians an estimated $3.7 billion.

Online abuse covers a variety of behaviours, with the most reported being abusive language – experienced by 27% of participants.

Tom Swann, a researcher for the institute, said, “While substantial numbers of both men and women experienced harassment, women were more likely to experience it, particularly sexual forms of harassment.”

This includes being sent unwanted sexual messages and material, which was reported by 18% of study participants.

Young people are also more likely to be victimised online, probably because they spend more time on the internet. However, abuse was also reported by users who spent less than an hour a day online.

To read the full report, head here.

tai.org.au

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