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A new study conducted by technology giant Microsoft, marking Safer Internet Day (7 February), found that South Africa was ranked last out of 14 countries for so-called digital civility.
The study is part of a Microsoft challenge for people to embrace digital civility, or treating each other “with respect and dignity online”.
Microsoft conducted the study last year in order to gauge the degree of civility across online interactions. So what did it find?
“South Africa ranked in 14th place in the Digital Civility Index, making it the country with the highest online risk exposure and lowest degree of digital civility out of all the nations surveyed including Australia, Germany, India, France, the UK and US,” the company wrote in an emailed statement.
Other countries in the poll included Belgium, Brazil, Chile, China, Mexico, Russia and Turkey.
Microsoft’s digital civility poll found South Africa to ‘excel’ when it came to online risk exposure
The study polled teenagers (13-17) and adults (18-74) about their experiences/interactions with 17 different online risks across four categories (behavioural, reputational, sexual and personal/intrusive). In fact, 78% of local polled users reported that they were “exposed to an online risk”.
Around one in five South Africans also experienced reputational risks, as opposed to the international average of 18%.
Angela Schaerer, Microsoft South Africa’s teacher engagement lead, said the ultimate aim was to push South Africans to be accountable for their online behaviour.
“Embracing ‘digital civility’ will give us an opportunity for a ‘digital reset’ – a time to take stock of online habits and practices to ensure we’re putting our best digital foot forward and in doing so it will make it easier to establish and help foster safe as well as inclusive interactions online.”