Online hate in US spikes against LGBTQ community, Black people, Muslims — ADL poll

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Online hatred and harassment have spiked in the United States in the past year, especially against the LGBTQ community, Black Americans, and Muslims, according to a survey released on Wednesday.

The Anti-Defamation League’s annual online hate and harassment report found that the rate of abuse on the internet has hit a record high since the organization launched the yearly poll in 2020. There were reported increases in online hate against nearly every group.

Over half of all Americans — 52 percent — have experienced hatred or harassment online in their lifetime, the survey said. The lifetime total marked a 12-point increase over the rate reported in the last survey, covering most of 2022.

In the past year, 33% of adults reported encountering some form of online hate or harassment, an increase from 23% the previous year.

The data for this year’s poll was collected in March and April and measured experiences on social media over the previous 12 months. The survey respondents were all located in the US.

For transgender individuals, 76% have been targeted with hatred online in their lifetime, and 51% in the past year, far higher than any other group.

In the past year, 47% of LGBTQ people, and 38% of both Black people and Muslims said they were harassed online. Black Americans were more likely to have experienced hate in the past 12 months than any other ethnic group.

In this October 8, 2019 file photo, a woman types on a keyboard in New York. (AP Photo/Jenny Kane, File)

For Jewish respondents, 44% said they had been harassed in their lifetime, and 26% in the past year, an increase of five points since the previous survey. One quarter of all Jews said they avoided identifying as Jewish online due to fear of violence and harassment.

Adolescents ages 13-17 reported a rise in online hatred, with 51% experiencing harassment, a 15-point jump since 2022.

For those who had been harassed online, 54% said it had happened on Facebook, the most of any platform, followed by Twitter and Instagram, both with 27%, and TikTok, at 19%. Hatred on Facebook has trended downward in the past three years, the data indicated, while Twitter, Instagram and TikTok have seen an increase since 2021.

The report linked the increase in online hatred to rhetoric from political leaders, celebrities, and other public figures, including charged dialogue around transgender rights, reproductive rights, racial justice and voting access.

“We’re confronted with record levels of hate across the internet, hate that too often turns into real violence and danger in our communities,” the head of the ADL, Jonathan Greenblatt, said in a statement. “It’s time to execute on the priorities set out by the White House and other policymakers, and it’s time for tech companies to deliver on their promises to reduce hate online.”

The report warned that online hatred often spills outside the bounds of the internet, including with bomb threats in the past year against hospitals that provide gender-affirming care. A shooter who killed seven people in Texas in May posted online against women, LGBTQ people and Jews, the report noted.

A law enforcement officer walks as people are evacuated from a shopping center where a shooting occurred, May 6, 2023, in Allen, Texas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)

Close to half of all teenagers who had been harassed online in the past year said the online discourse had led to offline or in-person harassment.

For adults, the ADL queried 2,139 respondents on March 7-24 and said the results had a margin of error of two percentage points. For teenagers, the poll surveyed 550 people between March 23 and April 6 and had a margin of error of 4 percentage points.

The data analytics and public opinion company YouGov collected the data on behalf of the ADL’s Center for Technology and Society.

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