When it comes to the internet, we don’t always agree with each other.
That’s the takeaway from a new Pew Research Center study, which found that more than half of Americans — 55 percent — agree that online trolls have gotten a bad rap and that many of them are actually doing a good job of keeping us safe.
It’s a sentiment shared by people who have spent time online, including nearly half of the people who responded to the survey, who said they would use the tools at their disposal to fight back against trolls.
The results also show that Americans are deeply skeptical of the power of online trolls, with 51 percent of people saying that they would not use the platform at all if they knew the company behind it was actively trying to harm them.
But there’s one group who’s more willing to go the extra mile and help online trolls: Facebook.
The Pew Research survey, which was conducted online and on-the-ground in February, asked people how much they believe the power and influence of trolls on the internet is a good thing.
Nearly half — 47 percent — of Americans said that the power trolls have is a bad thing, while 38 percent said it’s a good idea and 17 percent said they don’t know.
More than half — 54 percent — agreed that trolls have no power at all.
“Online trolls are often seen as bullies, and we tend to be more sympathetic to them when they’re acting out in ways that are harmful to people,” said Ryan Maue, a researcher at Pew who conducted the study.
“In fact, a majority of Americans (57 percent) agree that trolling is a very harmful thing to do.
We don’t want to be complicit in that.”
Pew found that online abuse on social media has been increasing steadily in the past decade.
A study published earlier this year found that about 70 percent of Americans say they’ve been abused online, and the majority of the cases involve women.
“A lot of the negative things people see online are actually coming from the person being abused,” said Maue.
“People are going to the site that posted a photo or video that they feel bad about.
Or they’re going to a site that posts a racist post, and people will see it and then decide to post it on their social media.”
One of the biggest threats to online safety is what’s called the “bots” phenomenon, where people are using bots to create content that’s intended to cause harm or incite others to do harm.
A recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that bots can generate more than a third of all fake news and misinformation online, as well as fake news from individuals.
The problem is that these fake stories are often posted by people with agendas, including trolls and fake news purveyors.
“There’s a lot of misinformation and a lot that’s fake that’s being spread about our government and our politicians,” said David Cohen, a professor at the University of Southern California’s Davis School of Law and co-author of the study, who also researches online trolling.
“There are lots of things that have happened that have led to this and there’s no way to really know how bad it is.
I think it’s something we have to really take seriously.”
As more Americans use online platforms, more are likely to take action to stop the harassment and abuse.
In 2016, the Pew Research poll found that nearly half (48 percent) of Americans had reported being harassed online.
Nearly one-third (32 percent) said they had received death threats, while 24 percent said someone had been physically assaulted or stalked.
But even when Americans report having received threats, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re being protected.
According to Pew, nearly three-quarters of people who said that they had been stalked or harassed did not report it to law enforcement.
“We know that when people say that they received a death threat or were physically attacked, that it’s very hard for law enforcement to investigate and that they’re not being treated fairly,” said Cohen.
“When people are told they can’t go to work or have their job protected, it’s going to be a very hard time for them to report it.”