How people are harmed online: testing a model from a user's perspective
The Online Safety Bill, as currently drafted, will require Ofcom to assess and publish its findings about the risks of harm arising from content that users may encounter on in-scope services. It will also require in-scope services to assess the risks of harm to their users from such content, and to have systems and processes for protecting individuals from harm.
Online users can face a range of risks online, and the harms they may experience are wide-ranging, complex and nuanced. In addition, the impact of the same harms can vary between users. In light of this complexity, we need to understand the mechanisms by which online content and conduct may give rise to harm, and use that insight to inform our work, including our guidance to regulated services about how they might comply with their duties.
This report sets out a generic model for understanding how online harms manifest. This research aimed to test a framework, developed by Ofcom, with real-life user experiences. We wanted to explore if there were common risks and user experiences that could provide a single framework through which different harms could be analysed.