The Online Harms Observatory

Providing real-time insight into the scope, prevalence and dynamics of online harms

Project status

Ongoing

Introduction

The Online Harms Observatory leverages our innovative research to help policy makers, regulators, security services and other stakeholders better understand the landscape of online harms. Initially, it will focus on online hate, extremism and misinformation. It aims to create a stepchange in how we understand the cross-cutting threats posed by this nexus of toxic content, with plans to expand to other harms in the near future. The Observatory was officially launched in March 2022 at AI UK, the UK’s national showcase of artificial intelligence.

This project is delivered in partnership with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport.

Recent updates

August 2022

The first tracker in the Observatory focuses on the abuse faced by football players in the men’s Premier League. Ofcom commissioned an in-depth report off the back of this first set of dashboards. Key findings from the 2021/2022 season include:

  • A small proportion of players receive the majority of abuse. For instance, 12 players account for 50% of all Abusive tweets. Cristiano Ronaldo and Harry Maguire receive the largest number of Abusive tweets.
  • The majority of players received abuse at least once. 68% of players received at least one Abusive tweet during the period (418/618). One in 14 (7%) received abuse every day.
  • A small proportion of players receive the majority of abuse. For instance, 12 players account for 50% of all Abusive tweets. Cristiano Ronaldo and Harry Maguire receive the largest number of Abusive tweets.

Read the full report

Areas being explored for our next trackers include abuse directed at MPs, female journalists and women playing in the Premier League.

Funding

The Online Harms Observatory is supported by Wave 1 of The UKRI Strategic Priorities Fund under the EPSRC Grant EP/T001569/1 and EPSRC Grant EP/W006022/1, particularly the “Criminal Justice System” theme within those grants and The Alan Turing Institute. The Observatory is being delivered in partnership with the department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport.

Organisers

Researchers and collaborators

Contact info

If you have questions about the Online Harms Observatory, or would like more information about the Online Safety Team’s research, reach out to Pica Johansson ([email protected]).

Funders

Collaborators