Civility on Social Media

Civility is about engaging with one another in a polite, empathetic and courteous manner.

This is obviously a significant challenge for many people in today’s world - and not just in America. Because of social media and its ever-expanding reach, the issue that is civility reaches all corners of the world. Americans do, however, believe there is a major problem at home.

A recent poll from Weber Shandwick and Powell Tate tracked the state of civility in the United States since 2010. This poll revealed that 93% of Americans believe there is a civility problem in the country, with most of those people (69%) categorizing it as a major problem.

In another report from Weber Shandwick and KRC Research, 63% of total Americans believe that social media has had more of a negative impact on civility than a positive one. It is important to note that even most of Generation Z, the demographic most in-touch with social media, believes that it causes more discourse than positive interaction.

What does this level of incivility lead to? Over 78% of Americans believe that incivility on social media leads to cyberbullying, harassment, violent behavior, hate crimes, discrimination, and less community engagement. In the same study, 57% of Americans believed that social media and the internet are the leading factors contributing to the erosion of civility in America. The White House, politicians and the news media followed. This metric was first introduced in 2012 and was at a much smaller number, 24%.

What do we think could help the issue? Most Americans (55%) believe that parents teaching civility at home to their children is the best approach. 42% believed that civility education in schools and colleges was a good route as well. In last on the list was a national day of civility.

While there is a lot that goes into incivility on social media, it starts with ourselves. How can we do better with practicing civility as individuals so that others will take notice and do the same? Asking ourselves that tricky question is where it starts.


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