Ever felt like social media is a hostile environment? You’re not alone.

Each year international public relations firm Weber Shandwick completes a study on civility in the United States. As one might expect, surveyed groups have ranked incivility as a problem in the last few years. Nearly 70 percent said it was a major problem in 2019. And a majority of people in the study said they thought incivility was only going to get worse.

For those who believed incivility would be getting worse soon, there were a number of factors fueling the fire. Social media led the charge, with 57% of people surveyed saying it was the largest contributing factor to growing incivility.

If you’ve been on any social platform in the last decade, that might not surprise you. On social media, you can give as little information as you want when posting. That opens the possibility for people to say anything they want with little fear of repercussions. 

While it has become a popular practice for brands to ‘roast’ their fans on social media, there are real repercussions for companies who handle online interactions poorly. According to Weber Shandwick’s report in 2018, more than 60% of people surveyed said they would not buy from a brand again if they experienced incivility. Many will also tell their friends and family to stay away as well—right around 43 percent, in fact.

Users are turning inward and looking for authentic connections on social media. Facebook Groups are growing every day. They create a forum for users to talk to people they know or share something in common with. And in a social world where many interactions can feel strained, that’s something consumers want.