Two-thirds of US online gamers experience 'severe harassment,' new study says

Sixty-five percent of online gamers have experienced harassment while playing, according to a new study released on Thursday.

According to the first-of-its-kind study from the Anti-Defamation League's Center on Technology and Society, those incidents included physical threats, stalking and sustained harassment. A majority of online gamers reported having been targeted based on their race, religion, gender, sexual orientation or ethnicity.

“Video games are an important and extremely popular form of entertainment. Nearly two-thirds of U.S. adults play games online, yet there are significant problems with hate, harassment and discrimination,” said Jonathan Greenblatt, ADL CEO, in a press statement.

The survey also found that many online gamers were exposed to extremist ideologies and hateful propaganda — including Holocaust denial and disinformation about the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

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"Online hate causes real harm. Every time someone in an online multiplayer game physically threatens or harasses another player repeatedly because of who they are or what they believe, that experience doesn't just end for that individual when the game is over," Greenblatt explained.

The survey comes as major tech platforms like Facebook, Google-owned YouTube and Twitter battle the spread of hate speech and disinformation.

Among the report's other findings: 38 percent of women and 35 percent of LGBTQ game players reported harassment on the basis of their gender and sexual orientation; 31 percent of thos who are African-American reported harassment based on race.

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The ADL report also contains recommendations that civil society groups and governments can take to stem the tide of harassment and hateful content.

The nonprofit group collected a nationally representative sample in collaboration with data analytics firm Newzoo, and conducted the survey from April 19 to May 1, 2019.