Asia Pacific improves in digital civility during pandemic: Microsoft

  • Singapore and Taiwan among top five most digitally-civil countries
  • 26% globally said online civility was better during pandemic

Asia Pacific improves in digital civility during pandemic: MicrosoftTHE Covid-19 pandemic has been maligned for everything from disrupting healthcare systems to upending world economies. But it has ostensibly brought out the better side in us – at least marginally and in certain specific countries – according to a new study by Microsoft Corp.

In a statement announcing its annual dual study entitled Civility, Safety, and Interactions Online 2020 and 2020 Digital Civility Index (DCI), the Redmond, Washington-based giant noted that the Asia-Pacific region (Apac) performed better in online civility in 2020 with a score of 66, compared to the previous year’s score of 68 (the lower the score, the better). Microsoft's global DCI also improved indicating that more people are experiencing positive online interactions, it added.

Two Apac geographies, Singapore and Taiwan, sit among the top five globally with the most favourable DCI scores, taking the fourth and fifth spots respectively. Conversely, other markets have reported more negative online experiences, with Indonesia ranking at 29 out of the 32 geographies and Malaysia reporting its least favourable DCI over the past five years.

Vietnam saw the best improvement in the region, with a six-percentage points improvement to 72 on the index.

The latest instalment of the DCI survey, conducted annually for the past five years, was culled from approximately 16,000 respondents in 32 geographies, and was completed between April and May 2020. It polled adults and teenagers about their online interactions and risks. This year’s research included nine Apac geographies: Australia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam.

“Microsoft’s annual study on digital civility is crucial to raising awareness and encouraging positive online interactions," said said Liz Thomas, regional digital safety lead, Apac, Microsoft. “Our societies are relying on and embracing digital technologies more than ever amid Covid-19, and a safer Internet will improve experiences and shape the well-being of our communities.”

“This Safer Internet Day, we are reminded that governments, organisations, and individuals all have a part to play in making the Internet a better place for work and play.”

Negativity still thriving Asia Pacific improves in digital civility during pandemic: Microsoft

The positive drivers for improvements in DCI performance are driven by teenagers (aged 13–16). They scored 63 in the global measure of online civility, putting adults to shame (who scored 72 on the index).

In Singapore, teenagers scored 50 on the DCI as compared with 68 for adults, while Taiwan also saw its teenagers score higher than adults, at 55 compared with 67. There is no change in DCI score for teenagers but there was a 16-point deterioration amongst adults in Indonesia. Meanwhile, Malaysia saw adults’ scores drop three times more than teenagers.

Overall, 26% globally said online civility was better during the pandemic, attributed to people helping one another and cultivating a greater sense of community, while 22% cited online civility as being worse, due in part to a greater spread of false and misleading information.

Risks that spread hate and division continue to grow, with global respondents reporting an increase in experiences of hoaxes, frauds and scams (+3%), hate speech (+4%), and discrimination (+5%).

In Apac, the number of respondents reporting instances of hate speech in India has doubled since 2016 (to 26% from 13%), while in Thailand, the number of respondents who reported experiencing 'micro-aggressions' was 18% above the global average.

“It’s heartening to see our next generation take the lead in driving positive interactions online, and to witness digital citizens come together to uplift online communities during the pandemic.

“Nonetheless, threats such as false and misleading information, together with uncivil behaviours online, continue to pervade society, requiring us all to take positive action.”

Moving into the New Year, respondents’ top wishes for the next decade worldwide were for better respect (65%), safety (55%), civility (33%), kindness (29%) and freedom (28%).


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