There is emerging empirical evidence showing that people who identify as gender diverse and/or non-heterosexual report higher rates of risks and harm online. In New Zealand, for example, Netsafe’s research has revealed that adults identifying as non-heterosexual (18 and over) are more likely to experience image-based sexual abuse and online hate compared to those identifying as heterosexual. Similar patterns regarding online harassment have been reported in Australia and the United Kingdom.
To expand the available evidence, this factsheet presents new insights based on longitudinal data exploring and comparing the extent of four types of unwanted digital communications in the last two to three years. It looks at the prevalence of being the target and the sender of unwanted, potentially harmful digital communications that included physical threats, seeking to embarrass, stalking, and making a sexual advance.
- Overall, non-heterosexual participants are more likely to experience receiving these types of unwanted digital communication when compared to heterosexuals.
- Annual rates for each type of unwanted digital communication were not steady, but in 2020 non-heterosexual participants’ experiences varied, with significant increases.
- From 2019 to 2020 there was a considerable increase in the percentage of non-heterosexual participants who said they had sent an unwanted digital communication.