Online abuse and the experience of disabled people Contents

Annex E: Online survey

To help us find out more about what people thought about our ideas for tackling online abuse, we created an online survey. We encouraged organisations that support or advocate for disabled people to share it over social media. Many of those who commented on the survey identified themselves as disabled. The survey asked for people’s views on the 14 draft recommendations set out in the special report “Online abuse and the experience of disabled people: draft recommendations for consultation”. The survey grouped the draft recommendations into three sections and asked people to choose which of the ideas in each group they thought was most important. They were then asked to chose which was the most important overall. People could also comment in a free text box.

The survey was completed by 208 people. The quantitative results, and a summary of free text comments, are set out below.

Section one recommendations

Recommendation 1: The Government should make sure that the internet is no more dangerous for people with disabilities than it is for people who don’t have disabilities.

Recommendation 2: The Government must always consult people with disabilities, especially when they are thinking about plans for keeping people safe online.

Recommendation 3: The Government should require social media companies to make sure that their rules and guides (including terms and conditions, community standards and account policies) are accessible to all disabled people.

Recommendation 4: Social media companies should have to make sure that their systems for reporting online abuse and for controlling what information other people see (privacy settings) are accessible to all disabled people, including adults with learning disabilities.

Recommendation 5: Social media companies should have to show that they have involved and listened to people with disabilities when they write their policies and plan how their sites work.

Section one results:

The most popular idea in section 1, chosen by 32% of respondents, was recommendation 1, that “The Government should make sure that the internet is no more dangerous for people with disabilities than it is for people who don’t have disabilities.” Recommendations 2 (23%), 4 (20%) and 5 (17%) also had significant support. Only 8% of respondents believed recommendation 3 was the most important idea in section 1.

Section two recommendations

Recommendation 6: The Government should make it a crime to stir up hatred against someone because of their disability.

Recommendation 7: The law about online abuse and hate crime is not clear for the police or for people with disabilities. The Government is looking at ways to change the law. They should produce plans for how to do this by 2020.

Recommendation 8: We think that the Government should look at different ways to enable employers to find out if a person has been convicted of online abuse.

Recommendation 9: The Government should do a review to find out about the experiences of people with learning disabilities when they report crimes or have to give evidence to the police or in a court.

Recommendation 10: “Mate crime” is when people pretend to befriend disabled people in order to abuse or exploit them. The Government should work with social media companies and dating websites on a plan to keep people safe from mate crime.

Section two results

Recommendation 6, that “The Government should make it a crime to stir up hatred against someone because of their disability”, was by some distance the most popular idea in section two, chosen by 48% of respondents. Recommendation 7, calling on the Government to clarify the law about online abuse and hate crime, was also popular, with 29% of respondents choosing it as the most important idea in section 2. Recommendations 10 (13%), 9 (7%) and 8 (3%) received significantly less support.

Section three recommendations

Recommendation 11: The Government must look at how crimes against disabled people are recorded and the effects this has. They must look at how this affects sentencing for hate crimes against disabled people.

Recommendation 12: The Government must make sure that every frontline police officer receives the necessary training to ensure that disabled people have equal access to, and treatment in, the criminal justice system.

Recommendation 13: The Government must require schools to teach children about disability and how online bullying can affect people.

Recommendation 14: The Department for Health and Social Care should develop guidance to help families and support workers identify and manage cases of hate crime and online abuse.

Section 3 results

The most popular idea in section 3, chosen as most important by 35% of respondents, was recommendation 11, that the Government “look at how crimes against disabled people are recorded and the effects this has”, including effects on sentencing. Recommendations 12, about training for frontline police officers (31%), and 13, on teaching about online bullying in schools (24%) also received notable support. Recommendation 14 (10%) was least popular in section 3.

Which of our ideas—in sections 1, 2 or 3—is most important?

We asked people which one of their chosen recommendations, in sections 1, 2 or 3, was the most important to them. Of the 208 respondents, 185 chose a most important recommendation. Of these, 69 respondents (37% of those who made a choice) said that section one was most important; 49 (26%) thought that section two was most important; and 67 (36%) believed section 3 was most important.

Overall, the single most popular idea was recommendation 6, that “The Government should make it a crime to stir up hatred against someone because of their disability”. Considering people’s slight preference for their choices in section 1, recommendation 1, that “The Government should make sure that the internet is no more dangerous for people with disabilities than it is for people who don’t have disabilities” was also notably popular.

Summary of free text box comments

82 people left comments in the free text box. Some people said that they believed that all our ideas for recommendations, in all three sections, were important and emphasised the difficulty in picking a most important single idea.

Using social media

Some respondents told us about how important social media was to them.

Experiences of abuse

Many people also shared their experiences of abuse.

Experiences reporting abuse

We also heard about people’s experiences of reporting online abuse to social media companies. Many people wanted stricter rules and punishments for online behaviour.

Others suggested making social media more accessible as a way to improve people’s experience online.

Many people shared their experiences of reporting hate crime to the police.

Portrayal of disabled people in public debate

The sentiment that came through most strongly from the comments was that people felt that politicians and the media should take some responsibility for the abuse of disabled people. The was a strong sense that stories about benefit fraud had affected the wider public’s attitudes and had “incited” crime against disabled people.

Society’s attitudes to disabled people

Some respondents talked about the abuse of disabled people being “socially acceptable”.

Consultation and inclusion

The need to consult disabled people was a common sentiment.

Changes to the law

Many people commented that changes to the law were the most important potential change. Suggested changes ranged from placing a legal responsibility on social media companies to ensure their platforms were free from abuse to changes to hate crime legislation.

There were also comments about the particular nature of disability hate crime.

Training and representation

Many respondents told us that changing social attitudes through better representation of disabled people would be the best way to combat abuse of disabled people.

People also commented that training on staying safe online for disabled people and others were also important.

Disagreement with the draft recommendations.

Although there were criticisms of the survey design, there were very few comments that disagreed with the draft recommendations.





Published: 22 January 2019