Why is South Africa the least civilized country on the Internet?

Of the 25 countries surveyed, Microsoft ranks South Africa as the least civilized country online. By what criteria are they sorted?

At the beginning of February, Microsoft released its report on the Civilization Index on the Internet (DCI). This result was announced by Microsoft on the occasion of International Internet Safety Day. In this list Microsoft ranks South Africa as the country with the lowest level of Internet civilization.

Why is South Africa the least civilized country on the Internet?
South Africa is the country with the lowest Internet civilization index in Microsoft’s survey. (Image:

The survey was conducted to understand users’ experiences with 21 risks caused by inappropriate behaviors. The survey group is teenagers and adults from 25 countries.

According to Microsoft, the digital civilization index is measured by adolescents and adults’ responses to online experiences and risks posed by the Internet. Specifically, Microsoft lists 21 types of online risks, divided into 4 categories related to reputation, behavior, sexual assault and personal information exploitation.

Why is South Africa the least civilized country on the Internet?
According to the survey, anonymous online attacks bring a lot of psychological damage. (Photo: Hornet).

The lower the index of a country, the more it shows that Internet users in that country face less risk from the network, or in other words, more civilized internet users. This is the first time that 3 countries have reached the index above 80%, of which the highest is South Africa at 83%.

According to a Microsoft report, South African surveyors say the most common online risk is unwanted contact (53%), fraud (40%), being treated badly (37%) and texting. adultery (34%). Up to 87% reported having had problems at least twice, 95% had suffered from problems online, and 71% feared the risks would return.

The most controversial topics online in South Africa are race (56%), politics (41%), religion (38%), sexual orientation (34%) and looks (32%).

For incidents that have had a heavy impact on morale, South African users say that discrimination, reputational defamation and online harassment are the biggest risks.

In previous years of Microsoft’s report, South Africa was always ranked low. In 2018, the country ranked last among the 14 countries surveyed. In 2019, South Africa ranked 21 out of 22 countries.

This is not the first report to show problems online in South Africa. In 2019, a report by market analysis company YouGov showed that 24% of Internet users in South Africa had admitted to being scammed online. Up to 28% of people have experienced unauthorized account access, and 53% have received phishing scam emails.

Cyberbullying is another problem. In 2015, market analysis firm YouGove found that South Africa was among the four countries with the highest rates of cyberbullying in the world. This survey shows that one in five adolescents in South Africa has been bullied, and 84% know victims of cyberbullying.

Why is South Africa the least civilized country on the Internet?
Miss South Africa Zozibini Tunzi was also a victim of cyberbullying.

This number remains unchanged after many years. In 2019, Ipsos’ annual report on cyberbullying found that 25% of South African parents admitted their child was a victim. The number of parents who know a victim of bullying is up to 54%, much higher than the average of 33% across a survey of 28 countries.

The majority of parents (66%) consider social media to be the preferred environment for bullying behaviors. The bully is mostly classmates (67%) or relatives (15%) of the victim.

South Africa has enacted the Anti-Harassment Act, which contains provisions on cyber-harassment. If brought to court and found that there was harassment, the victim will be entitled to a court-based defense mechanism. If the perpetrator continues to harass, he may be arrested.

Why is South Africa the least civilized country on the Internet?
South African journalist Redi Tlhabi once “declared war” on cyber bullies. (Photo: Madelene Cronje).

Disparaging and attacking online is not only aimed at teenagers. In 2019, when the South African beauty Zozibini Tunzi was selected to compete at Miss Universe, she received many disparaging comments from the country’s social media accounts. Veteran journalist Redi Tlhabi is also a victim of troll accounts.

In these cases, however, the victims were protected. Tunzi defenders were quick to point out the fallacy in the critics’ comments, even attacking the accounts against them. Meanwhile, Ms. Tlhabi says she is ready to respond to any campaign of attacks on her personal and family.

With so many problems with online behavior, it’s not surprising that South Africa was the third consecutive “hot spot” for lack of civility in Microsoft’s report.