With the rise of the internet and social media, human interaction has evolved far beyond what anyone could imagine. It has enabled us to connect with people from different corners of the Earth at any time with just a few clicks of a button.

However, this increased connectivity also brings with it increased risk. Microsoft has released the findings of its latest Digital Civility Index (DCI), which is an annual survey that examines people’s attitudes and perceptions about online behaviour and interactions.

The survey is conducted in 22 countries around the world, including Malaysia, with an aim to raise awareness of the real-world consequences of online risks.

Globally, the DCI dropped by two points from the previous year, mostly caused by unwanted contact. Malaysia experienced a noticeable loss in DCI, falling to spots to #6 out of 22 countries surveyed.

According to the survey, 53 per cent of Malaysians have been asked inappropriate or personal questions by a stranger online, 20 points above the global average. Other findings of note are as follows:

  1. 66 per cent of Malaysians have experienced unwanted sexting.
  2. 62 per cent of Malaysians have encountered fake news.
  3. 45 per cent of Malaysians have been called offensive names online.
  4. 34 per cent of Malaysians have received persistent unwelcome demands to develop a romantic or sexual relationship.

The survey reveals that Malaysians face more consequences from online risk and are less inclined to take positive actions as a result. For example, 39 per cent of Malaysians are less trusting of other people online.

On the other hand, positive actions taken by Malaysians to minimise online risk are relatively low. Only 43 per cent choose to tighten privacy settings on social media and only 33 per cent admit to treating other people online with dignity and respect.

Similar to last year’s results, millennials, boomers and teenage girls were the most impacted in terms of risk exposure and its consequences, with 94 per cent of boomers being significantly impacted by the consequences of online risks. On a positive note, the survey also found that more Malaysian teenagers asked for help from their parents when facing and online risk (33 per cent).

Overall, Malaysians are relatively more likely to be exposed to online risk and suffer moderate to severe consequences. More awareness must be raised regarding this issue especially for the more vulnerable demographics.