On ‘Safer Internet Day’, Microsoft challenges everyone to embrace “digital civility”

Abhishek Baxi

Today, on Safer Internet Day, Microsoft is challenging people around the world to embrace “digital civility” and to treat each other with respect and dignity online.

A Microsoft research shows people are concerned about the tone of online interactions and worry that risks will increase in the future. The research has prompted the company to create a Digital Civility Index – a new measure of people’s safety online and exposure to risks.

Safer Internet Day (SID) is organised by the joint Insafe-INHOPE network, with the support of the European Commission.

Digital Civility Index

The research is based on a study conducted in 14 countries, gauging the attitudes and perceptions of teens (ages 13-17) and adults (ages 18-74) about the state of digital civility today. It measured survey respondents’ lifetime exposure to several online risks across four categories: behavioral, reputational, sexual, and personal/intrusive.

The Digital Civility Index works like a golf score: the lower the value (on a scale from zero to 100), the lower the respondents’ risk exposure and the higher the perceived level of online civility among people in that country. The international Digital Civility Index score stands at 65.

Results show a person, on average, experienced 2.2 online safety risks out of the 17 included in the study. Countries that registered the lowest index readings (and thus the highest levels of perceived digital civility) were the UK (45) Australia (51), and the US (55) while the countries on the lower end were South Africa (78), Mexico (76), and Russia (74).

Digital Civility Challenge

Microsoft is introducing a Digital Civility Challenge that calls on people to commit daily to four ideals and to share their pledge on social media using the hashtags #Challenge4Civility and #Im4DigitalCivility.

Live the Golden Rule by acting with empathy, compassion and kindness in every interaction, and treating everyone they connect with online with dignity and respect.

Respect differences and honor diverse perspectives, and when disagreements surface to engage thoughtfully, and avoid name-calling and personal attacks.

Pause before replying to things people disagree with, and not posting or sending anything that could hurt someone else, damage reputations or threaten people’s safety.

Stand up for myself and others by supporting those who are targets of online abuse or cruelty, reporting activity that threatens anyone’s safety, and preserving evidence of inappropriate or unsafe behavior.

The company aims to start a conversation about how being civil online can benefit society with this new initiative thereby fostering vibrant, engaged communities.