8 things that make South Africans some of the rudest people online

South Africans are among the rudest people online, a new ‘civility’ study by Microsoft shows.

Dubbed the “Civility Index”, Microsoft’s study assessed the behaviour and levels of harassment experienced by internet users across 23 countries.

It measured the perceptions of teens and adults about the online risks they face, and how their interactions affect their lives. It gauged how internet users experience internet interactions in their country, who they interact with the most, and what kinds of interactions they come into contact with.

Among the risk factors the study looked at are those of an intrusive nature (unwanted contact, hoaxes, hate speech, etc), a behavioural nature (being treated mean, trolling, harassment, etc), a sexual nature (sexual solicitation, extortion, revenge porn, etc) and a reputational nature (doxxing, professional and personal reputation damage).

In the overall index, South Africans ranked 22nd out of 23 countries, showing that our general interactions online are less than civil, with only Peru being worse. The index score for South Africa was 77% – meaning 77% of respondents experiences one or more of the negative interactions listed below.

The three biggest risks highlighted by South Africans in the survey were unwanted contact from other people, followed by hoaxes, scams and fraud, with unwanted sexting being the third biggest risk.

However, where South Africa really stand out for the wrong reasons is in intrusive risks, which contains issues like hate speech and discrimination on top of the unwanted contact and hoaxes mentioned before.

These are the biggest problem areas highlighting in South Africa, from greatest to least risk.

The percentages reflect the number of respondents to the study who experiences the relevant type of behaviour. Red indicates where South Africa is in the worst three countries.

Behaviour Type %
Unwanted contact Intrusive 55%
Hoaxes, scams and fraud Intrusive 44%*
Treated mean Behavioural 29%
Unwanted sexting (received) Sexual 27%
Trolling Behavioural 26%
Hate speech Intrusive 22%
Discrimination Intrusive 19%
Online harassment Behavioural 17%
Unwanted sexting (sent) Sexual 17%
Microaggression Behavioural 14%
Cyber-bullying Behavioural 14%*
Doxxing Reputational 13%
Damage to personal reputation Reputational 13%
Sexual solicitation Sexual 12%
Misogyny Intrusive 5%
Damage to professional reputation Reputational 5%
‘Sextortion’ Sexual 4%
Revenge porn Sexual 2%
Swatting Behavioural 2%
Terrorism recruiting Intrusive 1%

* Had the worst rate out of all 23 countries

While things like receiving unwanted sexual attention are fairly prevalent in the online space in South Africa, they are about as common an experience as is found elsewhere in the world.

However, when it comes to cyber bullying and hoaxes, South Africans are deemed to be the worst out of the countries assessed in the survey. Trolling, hate speech and discrimination are also more prevalent than most other countries, as is doxxing (publishing personal information with malicious intent).

On the other side of the spectrum, South Africa doesn’t have as big an issue with terrorist recruitment or swatting (making hoax calls to emergency services to draw a large number of armed police to a specific location).

According to Microsoft’s global findings, women are more likely to experience all of the above negative behaviours than men, while teenagers are also more likely than adults to be on the receiving end of such behaviour.

You view the full results here.


Read: These online messages could soon be a crime in South Africa – and will land you in jail for up to 3 years

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8 things that make South Africans some of the rudest people online