9 February 2017

Microsoft challenges Internet users to embrace digital civility

To mark Safer Internet Day (SID), February 7, Microsoft has challenged people around the world to embrace “digital civility” and treat each other with respect and dignity online. While this may sound simple, findings from a new Microsoft survey showed that people are concerned about the tone and consequences of online interactions, and are worried that risks will increase in the future.

"This Safer Internet Day, as we continue to strive for progress, we must remain mindful that digital civility – grounded in empathy – is everyone’s responsibility.  We hope to see digital civility become a common behaviour, as we collectively build and support a safe and trusted online environment where everyone is empowered to share, create, learn and fully participate," the company said in a statement.

The new Microsoft Digital Civility Index (DCI), is designed to measure consumers’ lifetime exposure to online risks. Based on findings from a survey completed in June 2016 on the attitudes and perceptions of teens (ages 13 to 17) and adults (ages 18 to 74) in 14 countries* about the state of digital civility today, the DCI measured the respondents’ lifetime exposure to 17 online risks across four areas: behavioural, reputational, sexual and personal/intrusive.

Source: Microsoft. The DCI by country. Australia ranks high on digital civility, whereas India and China are ranked in the middle.
Source: Microsoft. The DCI by country. Australia ranks high on digital civility, whereas India, China and Turkey are ranked roughly in the middle. Country abbreviations: Australia (AU), Belgium (BE), Brazil (BR), Chile (CL), China (CH), France (FR), Germany (DE), India (IN), Mexico (MX), Russia (RU), South Africa (SA), Turkey (TU), USA (US), and UK

Results from the survey showed that an individual has experienced an average of 2.2 online safety risks out of the 17 included in the survey, and the top five online risks experienced are:
  1. Unwanted contact
  2. Being treated meanly
  3. Trolling
  4. Receiving unwanted sexts
  5. Online harassment
Other key findings from the survey include:
  • Two out of three respondents said they had fallen victim to at least one risk; that number swelled to 78% when participants also accounted for the online experiences of their friends and family members
  • Half reported being “extremely or very” worried about life online generally
  • Six in 10 (62%) said they did not know or were unsure of where to get help when they encountered an online risk
  • Respondents ranked a “loss of trust in others, increased stress, and sleep deprivation” as the leading, real-world consequences of negative online interactions
Based on the results, DCI scores were then calculated by using the percentage of consumers who were exposed at some point in time to at least one of 17 different online risks. Lower scores equate to lower online risk exposure and a higher digital civility.

The number of cyberbullying cases in Singapore are reportedly on the rise, and this is increasingly becoming a situation of concern. A 2012 Microsoft study found that Singapore had the second highest rate of cyberbullying worldwide after China.


As a participant of Safer Internet Day since 2004, Microsoft is encouraging all consumers to join in the Digital Civility Challenge to learn about online safety risk from the DCI. The Challenge calls on people to commit daily to four ideals and to share their pledge on social media, using the hashtags #Challenge4Civility and #Im4DigitalCivility.

Read some best practices for digital civility (PDF)
Start championing digital civility

Hashtags: #Challenge4Civility, #Im4DigitalCivility

*Countries surveyed: Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, China, France, Germany, India, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, Turkey, the UK and the US.