ONE IN every five Internet users surveyed in India have reported having faced online harassment. This is one of the findings of surveys by the policy think-tank LIRNEAsia on the Global South and information technology; other findings were reported in The Indian Express Wednesday.
Out of 919 Internet users in India in the age group 15-65, 175 (19%) reported that they had online harassment. This was more than in Pakistan or Bangladesh (12% each). Rural users in India (20%) experienced more online harassment than urban ones (17%) while males (20%) faced more harassment more than females (17%).
Almost half of those who had experienced online harassment in India were called offensive names, while one-fifth were “purposefully embarrassed or criticised in another way” and one-sixth were cyber-stalked, or repeatedly approached by unwanted contacts.
Again, 38% of those who faced online harassment did not know the motivation for the harassment, while roughly 20% each believed the motivation to be gender, religion or race, or politics. Most experienced the harassment on social media, while 29% faced it on chat applications, 16% on website comment sections and 7% in online gaming.
The source of the harassment was split into thirds (33% each) among someone the user had met offline earlier, an online contact never encountered offline, or someone unknown online and offline.
For almost half (48%) of those who experienced harassment, the incident(s) had no effect. Some reduced their time on the particular website (28%) while 15% deleted the app altogether. Only 5% unfriended or blocked the contact, or left the group or forum.
Mobile money use in India was just 6% of phone owners. On the other hand, awareness and use of e-commerce platforms was higher in India than in Pakistan and Bangladesh for most sectors. That said, e-commerce participants were often not heavy users, and only completed the search or search-and-order process.
Of those who did purchase online, 27% used debit cards, 22% used cash on delivery, and 18% used mobile banking or internet banking. Of those who didn’t participate in e-commerce, 31% said they could already buy what they needed offline, 24% were not comfortable sharing personal details and 23% were not certain of the product’s quality.
The 919 Internet users represented 19% of a pool of 5,000 Indians surveyed. Among the non-Internet users, 64% said they did not know what the Internet is. This proportion was third-highest among all 16 countries surveyed, below only that in Pakistan (69%) and Bangladesh (67%). Also, 9% of non-users, while aware of the Internet, did not know how to use it.
The non-users included 68% female respondents and 68% from rural areas. Three-fourths had either no education or only studied up to primary level. Even among smartphone users, 35% were unaware what the Internet is.
At 19%, Internet use in India is lower than that in Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya and Cambodia. Most other surveyed African and Asian countries, however, had lower overall penetration than India.