In today’s polarizing political climate, where everyone’s an activist and brands find themselves vying for relevancy by aligning themselves with any number of contentious social causes, perhaps it’s no surprise companies are now a common target for harassment and toxic content across social media platforms.

As a result, according to a report by early-warning risk intelligence provider Crisp, negative comments about brands or companies are surging online, causing untold damage to reputation and putting consumer brand loyalty at risk.

The report, which asked respondents how digital chatter and consumer comments online affect their purchasing behaviors, found that more than two-thirds of those polled (68 percent) reported witnessing a “significant rise” in the frequency of derogatory, offensive or hurtful comments about companies on brand-owned social media pages. More than half (51 percent) additionally said they’ve seen an uptick in negative comments on brand-sponsored ads running on social media sites.

CrispTop negative topics shared about companies and brands on social media.

Among the litany of negative comments that appear about companies or brands online, the most common are responses to a company’s stance on COVID-19 (32 percent), followed by inappropriate comments about Black Lives Matter (32 percent), accusations of fraud (31 percent), accusations of inequality (26 percent) and accusations of discrimination (26 percent).

More than half of respondents (60 percent) said they’re more likely to be skeptical of companies and their leaders as a result of harmful comments made about them online, regardless of whether or not those comments are true. 43 percent said they’ve decided not to purchase an item or service after encountering negative comments about the company online. More than half of consumers (60 percent) said they believe inappropriate or harmful comments reflect negatively on the values of that company or its leadership. Only a quarter (25 percent) profess remaining indifferent to what people say about brands on social media.

A majority of consumers polled (64 percent) said they hold brands responsible for addressing any inappropriate or harmful content made on their social media pages. Nearly two-thirds (63 percent) said they typically give brands an hour to address these comments. More than a quarter (28 percent) give brands 24 hours. Only seven percent think waiting a week to respond is appropriate.

Crisp’s “Brands at Risk” report surveyed 1,039 respondents in July. The survey was conducted by UK-based customer insight and analytics group STRAT7.