Social media platforms are able to establish online sexual harassment communities, such as the ‘Me Too’ community that provide significant, necessary support to sexual harassment victims and change both the political and social system. This is because users can both consult and share their stories globally with others, both synchronously and asynchronously, from the comfort of their homes. This experience allows them to disclose personal experiences and stand up for the oppressed in the same situation. It also allows them to maintain their privacy, which has been established through social media through ‘anonymity’.
Key Terms: Community/Communities. Online Support. Sexual Harassment. Me Too Movement. Network. Me Too.
Victims of sexual harassment require support in order for them to voice their opinions in order to eradicate harassment/assaults in the future (Frangonikolopoulos, C. A., & Chapsos, I. 2012). Due to the magnitude of such situations, users may not feel a level of comfort in disclosing such confidential information with families and friends. Therefore, this essay aims to discuss whether social media platforms such as Twitter are able to establish online sexual harassment communities to provide the necessary support and change the political and social system. This statement comes under the stream of ‘social media and communities’. This is applicable as this essay discusses the communities that have stemmed from social media platforms.
Social media has become revolution worldwide. It has become one of the more distinctive communication and mobilization channels for activists to engage with, due to the plethora of social network channels available online (Frangonikolopoulos, C. A., & Chapsos, I. 2012). This essay will expound on the progressing relationship between social media and communities in relation to the ‘Me Too movement’ which stemmed from the community attained through social media, specifically Twitter. ‘Me Too’ was established through the participatory culture offered by social media platforms, and initiated by Tarana Burke (Movement, M.T. 2018). Following the countless allegations against Harvey Weinstein, this became a media sensation for woman who have been sexually abused and mistreated within their workplace (White, R., 2018). Thus, social media platforms are able to establish online sexual harassment communities to provide significant, necessary support to sexual harassment victims and change the political/social system.
In 2011, social media platforms began operating as an ‘accelerating agent’ (Frangonikolopoulos & Chapsos, I. 2012), facilitating online discussions, organizing protests which, in turn led to a movement empowering women to express and voice their opinions with liberty. The features offered by social media platforms enables anonymity discussions which allows users to feel more secure when expressing themselves, which leads to a wider community online. Furthermore, social media platforms are revolutionizing the way users communicate with each other through the increased exposure of highly stigmatized issues prevalent in society today (Manikonda, L., Beigi, G., et. al. 2018). The plethora of platforms available today allow individuals to maintain privacy whilst empowering users to disclose their opinions/stories regarding issues that are often overlooked in society. This has become more apparent in circumstances such as disclosing opinions on highly stigmatized and ‘taboo’ issues such as – mental health, cancer and sexual abuse. Sexual abuse has become significantly prevalent in today’s community, despite being continuously disregarded (Manikonda, L., Beigi, G., et. al. 2018). However, self-disclosure on social media platforms have essentially become a significant part of each individual’s social life. Self-disclosure allows users to “reveal personal information to others” (Ma, X., Hancock, J., & Naaman, M. 2016), and this can both socially beneficial and intrinsically rewarding. Disclosing information publicly – especially online requires vulnerability from users, which can either result in a support community or negative consequences – as a result, some social media platforms allow anonymity when disclosing. Platforms that provide anonymity and allow communities to engage with each other around a shared experience/environment are crucial online spaces for individuals to disclose sensitive issues, whilst receiving support from other users without the ascribed risks that accompany identified disclosures. Examples of platforms offering anonymity includes: Reddit, 4/Chan and Facebook groups and Twitter. These platforms allows the identities of users to be hidden through the use of groups, excluding the user’s names and secreting anonymous accounts (Andalibi & Haimson, et, al., 2018). Online support forums have been in use for many years due to the functions served, as a result of anonymity. According to Manikonda & Beigi (2018), each year on average, there are 321,500 victims of sexual abuse in the US alone. Although, this has been a neglected conversation, they are currently being had on social media, as a result of providing a safe online space for self-disclosure (Manikonda & Beigi, et. al. 2018). Social media has become crucial today, as a result of the rapid growth in globalization – influencing today’s media culture. The relationship between media and its audience has progressed in this age of digital media where the role of readers is being redefined as two major concepts – participatory media and participatory culture has been introduced (Wong, 2012). The participatory culture has allowed users to not only ‘consume’ the content online, but allows them to ‘produce’ content as well. This is reinforced on Twitter as users are able to ‘tweet’ in order to express themselves, whereas initially, users were not able to produce content. The importance of globalization – culturally, technologically and economically entailed that it was compulsory for the media and social media to be able to provide news globally, as it has become inevitably significant to societies and communities.
One of the benefits provided by social media is the ability for individuals and societies to connect online, eliminating the limits of time and space (Wong, 2012) – also known as ‘space of flows’. This challenges the traditional concepts of intercultural communication (Wong, 2012) as now users are able to communicate on a local, national and global scale, allowing users to reach a wider audience. Since the 1990’s, there has been a widespread of discussions regarding internet activism and how media have been used effectively by various political and social movements (Kahn & Kellner, 2004). Globalization and the progression in digitalization has allowed information to be easily accessible globally, which has become a substantial factor when determining how audiences use and interact with media in society as the power that comes with it is immense. This is evident through the various social movements that have been initiated as a result. This essay will explore the Me Too movement, putting emphasis on the community that has been established.
The Me Too movement stemmed from the hashtag “#metoo” on Twitter by Alyssa Milano, an actor and critic of Winstein. This was done with the intent of signifying the issue of abuse, which resulted in women speaking up about their stories of sexual abuse. This further paved the way for conversations regarding power imbalance and behavior of men. The hashtag precipitated over 12m posts on a myriad of social media platforms from, Facebook, Twitter to snapchat and other platforms (Movement, M. T. 2018). Though issues on sexual assault have always been prevalent prior to 2006 – it was not until 2017, that this movement escalated and encouraged individuals globally to voice their opinions and personal stories on social media platforms in order to obtain justice for these woman and themselves. This led to a community on Twitter through the use of the hashtag where woman who were in support of each other were able to stimulate an environment of reassurance and support for one another. Communities are defined as ‘social groups of any size whose member resides in a specific locality, share government, and often have a common cultural and historical heritage or share similar interests’ (Movement, M.T. 2018).
The progression of social media has allowed societies to form where we are part of what is known as the ‘global village’, a concept introduced by McLuhan which states that the world has ‘shrunk’ as a result of digital and social media (Dixon, 2019). The idea of the ‘global village’ insinuates an online environment where users feel comfortable in sharing their experiences online in this community as users are able to exchange cultural beliefs with the technological advancements. This is evident through the hashtag revolution on twitter where celebrities have started resorting to twitter to come out and raise awareness through self-disclosure which has changed the world, both socially and politically.
The movement stimulated a community online, which can be explored in relation to Benedict Anderson’s (1991) work on ‘imagined communities’. He argues “even the smallest nation will never physically interact, or meet up in the offline world, yet in the minds of each member lives the image of their communion” (Kanno, Y., & Norton, B. 2003). This is applicable as the movement stemmed from Twitter – resulting in a phenomenon in terms of achieving political and social change, however, the majority of the community affiants have never interacted offline due to being connected virtually on a global scale. Imagined communities were initially employed to discuss the creation of the nation and user’s identities. Nevertheless, social media use special symbols that allows for the creation of imagined online communities similar to Anderson’s – comprising of specific characteristics shared by users, languages and a common interest among the users (Kavoura, A. 2014). In relation to Twitter, the form of engagement utilized is the ‘retweet’, ‘favorite’, ‘hashtags’ and the use of one word to identity and share ideas and Boyd (2010) argues that, retweeting is a means by which participants can engage in conversations (Kavoura, A. (2014). Nonetheless, the support shown to each over by each user who have endured sexual harrassment is incomparable. Twitter is a paradigm of social media, and, as proven to be one of the significant platforms where users are permissible to interact with each other on stigmatized and obscene issues in order to raise awareness, as Twitter allows for “a public interplay of voices which gives rise to an emotional sense of shared conversational context” (Weller, K et. Al. 2014). This has also been possible due to the number of internet consumptions today. More than 4.33 billion users were actively engaged with the internet in 2019, which is more than 50 percent of the population and the active users are in fact increasing significantly (Statista. 2019). This allows the audiences to interact with each other on a wider scale to raise awareness for the same cause, making it more effective.
Not only has social media allowed initiation towards social change with the hashtag, it has led to more substantial events in the offline world as well, for example: protests. As a result, thousands of both men and women marched the streets of Los Angeles in support of the victims who have encountered sexual harassments (Pengelly, 2018). This led to #metoo being tweeted more than 19 million times in 85 different countries – especially, in countries like Japan – where issues such as rape, was considered taboo in the society, have now initiated conversations on the issue (Brown, D. 2018). Nevertheless, the movement further exposed high profile directors and politicians who have misused their position and power – reinforced by events in Egypt, where the leader of Arab Spring was obligated to resign due to sexual allegations. This prompted resignations of ministers and politicians in Hollywood who were involved as a result (Kurian, 2019). Social media has resulted in both social and political changes within the law systems, resulting in nine members of the Congress party having to either resign or declined to re-run for elections in the US after being charged for sexual harassment. The cases illustrated has shown that the movement has influenced politics and society in many constructive ways, and, without social media enabling communities in support of each other, the changes that have been made would not have been possible.
Movement, M. T. (2018). About-Me Too Movement. Me Too.
Butler and Diaz (2016) states that the success of the movement is a result of its central focus of sexual harassment, as, this is not only concrete and discrete in its manifestation, but it is also visual. Butler & Diaz (2016) also argues that the visual emphasis is what allows the movement to be suitable to the internet-based activism. While social media provides platforms for developing collective identity and for creating a cohesive movement ideology that could possibly mobilize new participants, it is equally significant to explore the constraints that social media can play on the mobilization for and engagement in achieving a collective action. This includes unreliable information being spread across platforms, leading to outraged mobs, lack of privacy or even uncontrollable protests. Therefore, it is vital to ensure the validity and facts on causes before becoming activisms for it. Nonetheless, it is important to take into account that social media does not always elucidate a positive role for promoting activism and social movement participation. Youmans and York (2012) highlights how “social media tools that facilitate protest can also be used by repressive regimes and their supporters to dampen and disrupt opposition” (Mundt, M., Ross, K., & Burnett, C. M. 2018). An example being the concept of ‘censorship’ which prevents certain communities from being established, as a result of the hegemony instilled within politicians and governments in the majority of the countries under the authoritarian regime (Mundt, M., Ross, K., & Burnett, C. M. 2018).
Social media has proven to be crucial in relation to social movements and establishing communities as the majority of social movements/unrests stem from social platforms such as Twitter and Facebook. Furthermore, media technologies and new media also play a significant role as without the widespread communication and the participation culture, individuals would not have been able to communicate and share their stories online, nor would their stories have global access. While new media has been assimilated into every affluent individual’s daily lives and blurred the line between consumers and producers, it has become inevitable to share stories and influence communities on social platforms in order to make a change in the world, politically and socially, which is evident through the case study analyzed. To conclude, without social media and the benefits it provides – hashtags, groups, pages etc. and the participatory culture, although communities would be effective, media platforms increases the efficiency and effectiveness of the online communities, and therefore, it has becoming significant and is the grassroots when intending to socially make a difference.
Kanno, Y., & Norton, B. (2003). Imagined communities and educational possibilities: Introduction. Journal of language, identity, and education, 2(4), 241-249.
Weller, K., Bruns, A., Burgess, J., Mahrt, M. and Puschmann, C., 2014. Twitter and society (Vol. 89). Peter Lang.
Statista. (2019). Global digital population 2019 | Statistic. [online] Available at: https://www.statista.com/statistics/617136/digital-population-worldwide/.
Manikonda, L., Beigi, G., Liu, H., & Kambhampati, S. (2018). Twitter for sparking a movement, reddit for sharing the moment:# metoo through the lens of social media. arXiv preprint arXiv:1803.08022.
Mundt, M., Ross, K., & Burnett, C. M. (2018). Scaling social movements through social media: The case of Black Lives Matter. Social Media+ Society, 4(4), 2056305118807911.
Butler, S. M., & Diaz, C. (2016). Third places” as community builders. Brookings.
Frangonikolopoulos, C. A., & Chapsos, I. (2012). Explaining the role and the impact of the social media in the Arab Spring. Global Media Journal: Mediterranean Edition, 7(2).
Ma, X., Hancock, J., & Naaman, M. (2016, May). Anonymity, intimacy and self-disclosure in social media. In Proceedings of the 2016 CHI conference on human factors in computing systems (pp. 3857-3869).
Andalibi, N., Haimson, O. L., Choudhury, M. D., & Forte, A. (2018). Social support, reciprocity, and anonymity in responses to sexual abuse disclosures on social media. ACM Transactions on Computer-Human Interaction (TOCHI), 25(5), 1-35.
Kavoura, A. (2014). Social media, online imagined communities and communication research. Library Review.
Wong, S. (2012). New Media & Globalization. [online] prezi.com. Available at: https://prezi.com/x99kcpcr0vby/new-media-globalization/
White, R., 2018. Title VII and the# MeToo Movement. Emory Law Journal Online, 68, pp.1014-1033.
Kahn, R. and Kellner, D., 2004. New media and internet activism: from the ‘Battle of Seattle’to blogging. New media & society, 6(1), pp.87-95.
Pengelly, M. (2018). #MeToo: thousands march in LA as sexual misconduct allegations continue. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/nov/12/metoo-march-hollywood-sexual-assault-harassment
Brown, D. (2018). 19 million tweets later: A look at #MeToo a year after the hashtag went viral. [online] USA TODAY. Available at: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2018/10/13/metoo-impact-hashtag-made-online/1633570002/.
Kurian, A. (2019). Long before #MeToo, women in many parts of the world organized successful campaigns against sexual violence. [online] Public Radio International. Available at: https://www.pri.org/stories/2019-03-07/long-metoo-women-many-parts-world-organized-successful-campaigns-against-sexual
Dixon, V. (2019). Understanding the Implications of a Global Village. [online] Inquiries Journal. Available at: http://www.inquiriesjournal.com/articles/1681/understanding-the-implications-of-a-global-village
40 thoughts on “Social media platforms are able to establish online sexual harassment communities within the social media and communities’ stream, to provide significant, necessary support to sexual harassment victims and change the political and social system.”
It’s amazing to read how social media platforms have benefited the sexual harassment victims in their fight against injustice for women. Example such as #MeToo movement has proven to be effective in pushing for social and political changes.
Likewise, we should also use such movement to fight against other negative effects of social media such as cyberbullying. What is your view?
I enjoyed reading your paper as I have written about the #MeToo movement I do agree that social media platforms have helped tremendously to raise awareness, help people share their stories through the participatory culture and that has helped to build a community that indeed increases the efficiency and effectiveness of the online communities, that helps make a difference.
Good job and well-structured paper.
Thank you for reading my paper!
After reading a collection of papers on #metoo and #BLM in relation to social media platforms ie. Twitter. I think we have all concluded that although there are implications regarding social media such as – discrediting the innocent, cyberbullying, false information, etc, the benefits of what these platforms can do for those who are seeking justice and a voice outweighs the implications.
Thanks again for your comment!
I really enjoyed engaging with your work. I appreciate the honest and sensitive approcah you’ve taken to writing this report and your finding and well founded and based on research you’ve conducted as well as being influenced by other authoritative and appropriate researchers.
Thank you so much for your kind feedback!
Sexual abuse is an incredibly difficult topic and the anonymity you explored was well researched. I was unaware that Facebook affords its users to post in groups anonymously, and it is certainly undeniable the support online communities can provide individuals.
The societal ‘taboo’ of sexual assault is incredibly infuriating when it comes to the justice system; as the victim you are forced to say it out loud in detail, it comes from your mouth and people are shocked and disgusted but that is directed at you because you said it. A huge problem I noticed is when the narrative is about ‘did she deserve it’ instead of ‘how are we going to punish the person who did it’. This is certainly when the justice system fails us (the victims). The process itself is demeaning, making the victim the villain in this particular narrative. It becomes the victims duty to actually prove they did not deserve to have these crimes committed, instead of the suspects job to prove they did not commit the crimes. And the system is judging everything she has ever done, worn, said, and posted to social media; to help decide whether she deserved it or not. It is difficult to change social thinking that is so embedded into the system. Anonymity online has certainly helped those victims to seek support at least.
Thank you for taking the time to read my paper and for the feedback. After doing further research on Facebook and how anonymous one can be on it, I found that users are able to make accounts without sharing their personal information, this allows users who are hesitant to disclose personal information to use the platform at ease.
Thank you for pointing that difference in the narrative when it comes to sexual abuse, and while I agree that often people question whether the victims have done this to themselves by asking ‘did she deserve it?’, it’s devasting to know that people still point the blame at the victims, either by commenting on the clothes she wore or how she was acting.
I agree that it is certainly difficult to change social thinking that has been embedded into the system. I wonder if this issue will ever be eradicated. Will the perception within the justice system against women ever change?
I look forward to hearing your thoughts!
I don’t think the system and society will change their process/thinking completely. We (society) are more comfortable with anonymous stories via social media than when it is in the public eye (like court) where society can put a face to the victim and the suspect. It is a back-words system that doesn’t protect the victims.
I strongly agree with you. We are certainly more comfortable with anonymous stories as opposed to being in the public eye. With that being said, anonymity also leads to less credibility in my opinion. If we can’t identify those or if we can’t put a face to something, doesn’t that make the story a little less convincing? This is something I could’ve explored in my essay, given the longer word count.
However, I do agree that we live in a world where the system is back-words and it’s unfortunate.
Thank you for an insightful read.
I was first made of aware of the MeToo movement due to the Harvey Weinstein case and the actresses that had raised the case against him and the ongoing cases in Hollywood.
The topic of sexual abuse is similar to mine of mental health – it has been taboo for too long and needs to be made more public, so that it can be combated and not brushed under the table.
Although the movement was started to bring awareness to the sexual abuse of women by men, I would be truly interested in knowing if the mandate has been or could be expanded to cover all victims of sexual abuse and how they are combating the issue of people being falsely accused given the availability of anonymity.
Thank you for taking the time to read my paper. I too was made aware of the MeToo movement after hearing about the allegations against Weinstein.
To answer your question – anonymity has become a controversial issue in the media due to being able to post hate comments or engage in cyberbullying without any accountability. The MeToo movement has seen countless numbers of false accusations against both men and women. However, the #HimToo movement was initiated as a result of the MeToo, consisting of men who have been falsely accused (Boyle, K., & Rathnayake, C.2020) online. Another method that was used to tackle false accusations was the use of early investigations. This is where one’s sex crime lawyer can complete an investigation into the sexual assault claim that has been put against you. If there were any physical evidence, this could be used to prove the falsified victim’s innocence.
Additionally, they can evaluate the victim’s credibility and thoroughly investigate if the victim has some reason to lie about the claims he or she is making.
Boyle, K., & Rathnayake, C. (2020). # HimToo and the networking of misogyny in the age of# MeToo. Feminist Media Studies, 20(8), 1259-1277.
Thanks again for your comment!
your work is truly amazing!
Since social media is used to touch a larger audience, your arguments fit perfectly your chosen topic. I do agree that social media platforms have helped many sexual harassment survivors to voice out as it is a means for them to receive help and also motivate others to voice out.
Thank you for your reading my paper!
It’s amazing how such platforms are able to make a difference and influence a larger audience, given that the platforms are used appropriately and within the rules and regulations put in place!
What an insightful paper, I was really interested to learn more about the Me Too movement and the outcomes which were influenced by its widespread social media exposure. I had similar findings when researching my paper regarding Black Lives Matter and Twitter’s huge impact in raising awareness for advocacy movements, by forming a collective identity and online community among users with shared values.
You mentioned some great examples of individuals being empowered to share their stories and connect with other sexual abuse/harassment victims on social media, to provide support and a safe space behind the guise of anonymity. However, I wonder do you think there is also a high chance of anonymous profiles being misused on these platforms? For example, the possibility of fake profiles targeting victims for further harassment online, known as ‘trolling’ which has more recently become a prominent practice on the internet.
I’m also curious to know, do you think the Me Too movement has also failed in some ways? For instance, on the other end of the spectrum where people who have been wrongly accused can be villainised and attacked by others online, before even having a chance to defend themselves due to what you referred to in your paper as the accelerating agent of social media. However, that’s not to reduce how successful the Me Too movement has been in using social media to generate public knowledge around the topic of sexual harassment and abuse, and giving survivors a platform to have their voices heard and confront their abusers.
I came across this article which you might also find interesting about the backlash from the Me Too movement. With the author providing results from a 2018 and 2019 survey of an alarming percentage of people now reluctant to engage with the opposite sex at work in certain ways, such as one-on-one meetings without third party supervision.
Overall a really well researched paper, well done!
Thank you for reading my paper and for the link. I found it alarming that according to the article, most men weren’t aware that their behaviors were coined as sexual harassment. This surprises me as it makes me think a lot of the men are aware of the definition of sexual assault, but they aren’t aware of their own behaviors or how to treat women and I think it surprises me because of the century we live in.
To answer your question – There is definitely a high chance of anonymous profiles being misused on these platforms. With any online movement, ‘trolling’ or ‘catfishing’ is almost inevitable as these users are not being held accountable for their own actions. This makes it easy to post hate comments, falsify accusations, and troll those who have spoken up. This is one of the negative impacts of such movements and I don’t think this will ever be eliminated as I think people behind a computer screen feel powerful due to their identity being disclosed.
However, I think sharing one’s identity in terms of speaking up about one’s sexual abuse story, will encourage other survivors to do the same, and this gives credibility and validity to stories posted online.
I think the MeToo movement failed in the sense that the ‘trolling’ that has become prominent because of it has led victims into depression and other mental health issues. This could have also led them to not speak up at all after being hated for it. However, for men who have been falsely accused, the
#HimToo movement was initiated as a result of the MeToo, consisting of men who have been falsely accused (Boyle, K., & Rathnayake, C.2020) online. Another method that was used to tackle false accusations was the use of early investigations. This is where one’s sex crime lawyer can complete an investigation into the sexual assault claim that has been put against you. If there were any physical evidence, this could be used to prove the falsified victim’s innocence.
Do you think social media is the most effective method of tackling and eradicating contemporary issues like sexual harassment and racism?
I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Boyle, K., & Rathnayake, C. (2020). # HimToo and the networking of misogyny in the age of# MeToo. Feminist Media Studies, 20(8), 1259-1277.
I really enjoyed reading your paper! Thanks for sharing.
I wanted to join in the thread here as you raise some very interesting points. It is true, #Metoo failed in some respects, but overall I think the benefits the movement achieved outweigh any perceived failures. After all, if the movement created strong supportive communities for sexual abuse survivors then that is a big win.
In regard to your question on whether social media is the most effective method of tackling and eradicating contemporary issues like sexual harassment and racism – there is certainly evidence to suggest that social media is an important tool in helping to tackle these issues. Social media can help to engage and ‘recruit’ many more people to the feminist movement. With the increased people power comes influence and the power to dictate what is popular. (Matich et al, 2019) However, this process can take a very long time – societal change is possible little by little over many years with the help of social media.
Matich, M., Ashman, R., & Parsons, E., (2019) #freethenipple – digital activism and embodiment in the contemporary feminist movement, Consumption Markets & Culture, 22:4, 337-362, DOI: 10.1080/10253866.2018.1512240
Thank you for reading my paper and for your feedback!
I completely agree with you – if the movement created strong supportive communities for sexual abuse survivors then that in itself is successful. When doing additional research on the success of this movement, I found that there have been recent studies (in 2018) where these women have been interviewed. The two quotes that had intrigued me were ‘It took me quite a long time to develop a voice’ (Pain, P. 2020) and ‘“I Would Have Taken This to My Grave, Like Most Women’ (Sambaraju, R. 2020). This highlights how the movement encouraged people who felt oppressed and subservient to those in power to speak up for the injustice faced.
As you said, if this movement has allowed for supportive communities to be formed, it is a big win in itself.
I also agree that societal change is possible little by little over many years with the help of social media. With the amount of time it will take to eradicate such issues, do you think we will ever live in a world where social issues like this will ever be completely eliminated?
Pain, P. (2020). “It took me quite a long time to develop a voice”: Examining feminist digital activism in the Indian# MeToo movement. new media & society, 1461444820944846.
Sambaraju, R. (2020). “I Would Have Taken This to My Grave, Like Most Women”: Reporting Sexual Harassment during the# MeToo movement in India. Journal of Social Issues, 76(3), 603-631.
How are you?
I really enjoyed reading your paper of the way how you explained about the positive aspects of how it impacted on social media concerning the victims of sexual harassments and all. Here, the way you took the #MeToo campaign into consideration is one the best example that end up having victory and we can rarely hear sexual harassment especially in Bollywood movies. It feels good of how many victims got the opportunity to express themselves and end up with good results. Via hashtags the entire world got aware of the issue.
In my paper, i did mention the #MeToo movement but here, i’ll grab this platform to ask you a question, what is your opinion of people who tries to discredit people who are innocent?
I hope i’ll get a reply from you.
Enjoy your evening.
Thank you for reading my paper! Yes, it is amazing to see how we can change the world or at least attempt to change it through a simple hashtag tool. I think we underestimate the power online communities have which can easily be translated into the physical world through a dominant leadership and belief in the cause.
To answer your question – I think it’s inevitable. With every good/ beneficial cause initiated online, it is easy for people who feel misjudged or anyone, in general, to use the platform to discredit people who are innocent because as I mentioned, although anonymity is beneficial for people who don’t want to disclose personal information, it makes it easier for other people to make fake accounts and send hateful comments regarding the situation. I personally think it’s a way for these people to regain control and power as this movement attempts to eradicate power instilled in men.
What are your thoughts on this?
I’d love to hear back 🙂
Thank you for a great article and I can see you spent alot of time researching this.
I have spent most of my time on this unit researching politicians and the freedom of speech and the manipulation and power surrounding social media platforms. I liked your approach of showing your readers how social media can be away for citizens to look for support.
When you do want to express a social change, and your example of the #metoo and women who supported each other and shared personal stories. There are so many women who have not been able to share there experiences in fear of being judged, shamed and embarrassed. Social Media has become a place for people to have there voice and in there off line world they would never share. I thought your ideas about global village was really interesting and a concept I hadn’t thought of and yes, our world is shrinking. with so many complications through the digital world there is a space for citizens to share and hopefully move forward and a way to help others. Due to Covid, citizens are now facing more hardship, isolation and loss of family and friends. How do you think social media platforms will affect online communities and adapt a global village to support Covid victims?
Thank you for reading my paper and for your thorough feedback. I’m sure you found a great deal of manipulation and power surrounding social media platforms, especially from governments. I’d love to hear your thoughts on politicians and how they’ve used social media platforms to further their own agendas. An example that comes to mind when discussing this unit is the ‘Saffron Revolution’ which had happened in Burma. The Burmese government used censoring as a means of controlling the circulation of information on social media platforms in order to further their own agendas of maintaining the reputation of Burma.
To answer your question, I think people rely on social media now, more than ever because of Covid and the inability to meet their friends/families in person. With the restrictions, I’m sure this has taken a toll on a lot of people’s mental health due to being alone and cooped up in their houses, facing losses whether it be friends or families. As a result, a lot of people resort to social media as a means of escaping reality ie. through gaming, TikTok, Instagram, etc. This definitely reinforces the concept of the ‘global village’ as it allows people to come together and to stay connected despite location boundaries put in place. I think social media platforms will or have affected online communities in a positive way either by lending support through comments or by posting relatable content on social media and this allows users to feel connected and to feel as though they aren’t the only ones going through this.
When talking about the global village and the connectivity social media platforms provide, I experienced this a few days ago when someone randomly sent me a message on Instagram, asking and checking in on me because of Covid. This was someone I’d never met or spoken to and it definitely caught me by surprise.
How do you think social media platforms affect users during covid times? Do you think social media is shown in a more positive light now due to the fact that a lot of people rely on it today?
Thank you for your response and its fascinating how social media has changed so much and there are so many complications to it.
Responding to your first enquiry, about power, politicians and manipulation. My paper discusses citizens and the freedom of expression. I discussed our citizens are commenting on political issues and this is a cause for concern because of ideologies and online communities are formed which may not have the best intentions. Just to prompt you on some of the key ideas from my paper I l looked at analysing how Trump used his Twitter account @realDonaldTrump to gain citizens’ attention, we must understand what content he engaged with his followers. Lewandowsky et al. (2020) analysis is how Trump diverted harmful content created by the media and used keywords to represent his preferred topics. Topics that could be harmful to his presidency and potential conflict were Russia and potential interference with election campaigning and the investigation of the Mueller case; these diversionary Twitter topics were immigration, jobs, and China. Trump was able to target analysis on what citizens were thinking about these political issues and use these analytics of data to respond to the media and deflect some of the media content (Lewandowsky et al., p.10).
Technology affordances and online communities that have shaped their views on political matters have gained an insight for politicians to see what citizens are thinking. I would like to hear your thoughts and is there any political posts that you have engaged on yourself?
I think that social media platforms are going to change yet again and because of Covid, citizens are relying on their news from social media platforms such as twitter and Facebook. This is a concern because how real is the news? How much is the news edited? Who paid for the news to be sponsored to create engagement and its only to these platforms benefits has they gain interaction and participation? I feel that the news needs to be regulated and monoitored because of the particaption of citizens views on political matters.
Has your time on social media increased because of Covid?
Lewandowsky, S., Jetter, M., & Ecker, U. K. H. (2020). Using the president’s tweets to understand political diversion in the age of social media. Nature Communications, 11(1), 5764. doi:http://dx.doi.org.dbgw.lis.curtin.edu.au/10.1038/s41467-020-19644-6
Thank you for such a thorough response. While reading your paper, I completely agree with the points you were putting across. I thought your paper was very well-written and insightful.
I agree that citizens are commenting on political issues and this is a cause for concern because ideologies and online communities are formed which may not have the best intentions and this is something we cannot control due to the nature of social media. This is also something that I find to be quite scary. Speaking of Donald Trump, while his tweets and content he engages with are controversial, it makes me question whether or not he does this for the attention he gets from it.
To answer your question, I haven’t engaged with any political posts (although I really should). With that being said, I can see why technology affordances and online communities that have shaped their views on such matters have gained insights on politicians, allowing them to see what their citizens are thinking. Are there any political posts that you have engaged in? I’d love to hear some.
As you’ve mentioned, Covid has or will definitely change the face of social media as we rely on and resort to social media for almost everything. I, myself rely on social media as the means of receiving news information on platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook and due to the participatory culture, there are a lot of speculations on the validity of news being passed through platforms. I find myself questioning the validity of the majority of news I stumble across on such platforms and resort to other more legit websites for confirmation. The fabrication of political news can definitely be a scary one as this affects what citizens post regarding politics and in countries with an authoritarian and totalitarian regime, this can be dangerous for the citizens for a number of reasons, ie. jailing.
My time on social media has definitely increased as a result of not being able to engage in activities I’d normally engage in. However, I’ve also made a conscious effort to stay offline as much as I can and engage with the offline world more.
Has your time on social media increased?
I look forward to hearing from you!
I think we have made some great points and conclusions. From some of the other papers, we have all generally saying that our time on social is decreasing and we are not using it as much as we have done in the past. Have we become too cynical and know too much of what really goes on?
I am like you and making a conscious effort to stay offline, however in double edged sword situation, my business is a huge part of Instagram and it’s a way I advertise.
Thank you for a great discussion and I think as a social media user, we have to be careful on what we are commenting on and it’s up to us personally to understand the possible impacts and monitor our own online behaviour
Hi Saranya! I really enjoyed reading your paper about the positive impact of social media platforms for victims of sexual harassment. The #MeToo movement is a prime example of social media activism at its best, helping millions of victims to voice out their opinions. When talking about the effectiveness of hashtags in the #MeToo movement you could have mentioned ‘hashtag activism,’ a term coined to refer to the use of Twitter hashtags in online activism.
While I agree with you when you said that social media platforms have empowered victims to voice out their opinions through anonymity, I do question the extent to which you can be anonymous on social media platforms. Do you think that social media platforms are really designed to be an effective safe space for the victims or rather put themselves in harm’s way from the responses they might receive? How protected are these victims when sharing their stories online, can you really be completely anonymous on these platforms?
I really liked your paper, continue the good work! Looking forward to hearing from you soon.
Thank you so much! Through my research, I hadn’t come across that term for some reason but I’ll definitely look into this term, thank you!
You bring up some great questions which I will attempt to answer. I agree that the extent to which you can be anonymous on social media and a lot of people misuse or take advantage of this by making fake accounts or sending hate comments to other people who have opened up about their experience. I think social media provides both a safe and toxic space for everyone, especially victims who have been strong enough to share stories to encourage other people to do the same. Being able to share survival stories takes a lot of courage and vulnerability and then to be attacked or judged for it, definitely does more harm than good as it affects their mental health. On the other hand, I think this encourages other people and this creates an online community where there is a support system for those who have been through the same and this is a bigger plus point compared to hate comments as that is something that is inevitable in my opinion.
I think complete anonymity comes from creating ‘fake accounts’, however, this does not benefit the movement nor does it add to the credibility as without identities being revealed, people tend to think it’s false information. There is power in identity and so not being anonymous, may increase the severity of the causes and this may cause people to take action and support the survivors.
Do you think social media platforms are designed to be an effective safe space for victims or people in general?
I’d like to hear your thoughts as well!
I really liked your paper. Your argument outlines some interesting considerations in regard to the mobilising of movements through new technologies.
#Metoo opened a new channel of enquiry into current and historical sexual assault, harassment and misconduct claims, and as we have seen now, has resulted in physical world ramifications ie. the jailing of Bill Cosby and Harvey Weinstein (among many others).
As my paper noted some of the negative aspects of influencer culture (capitilising on community for commerce), your paper focuses on the positive power of influencers ie. people using their huge platform, following and community to empower and support victims to speak out on subjects that they once had no power to speak on.
The anonymous and “safe” space online also provides that extra layer of protection, allowing victims to speak out in their own time, and edit or delete a response in case they have mispoke or raised issued they did not intend to raise.
In the same light, do you think the technology can also enable the behaviours this movement seeks to remove? ie. deliberate silencing, slander, harassment, victimisation etc. In the same space where victims can attach their story to #metoo, victims can also experience cyberbullying, harassment and defamation from supporters of the accused.
Regardless, I see the technology as enabling positive social change – and this is never a bad thing.
Thanks again for sharing your paper
Thank you for taking the time to read my paper and for your feedback. I definitely agree – the movement has paved the way for other movements in relation to sexual assault ie. the jailing of Bill Cosby as you’ve mentioned followed after the movement itself.
To answer your question, I think that with every movement, there will be backlashes and there will almost always be people who behave in a way that seeks to remove the main aim of the movement which is inevitable. I think social media as a whole is a toxic environment for the most part due to the comments that can be made and the experience of cyberbullying as you’ve mentioned. With that being said, I think it’s important to have such conversations online as this gives women the power and a voice which is something they have not had in the past.
In my opinion, there will always be people who hate on other people online and this is something we can’t control and so, encouraging women to speak up online establishes an online community where there is constant support for each individual within the community which is extremely vital. There is also power in identity and so by using their real names, the message put across receives higher credibility and validity. This questions made me think of the quote by Virginia Woolf, “For most of history, Anonymous was a woman”. This quote reinforces how in the past, women had no voice due to the hierarchal system and inequality between men and women. However, I think the #metoo movement has allowed women to feel comfortable enough to speak up for the injustice they’ve faced, and cyberbullying and online slander is a result of the movement and is something to be faced with, with a strong head as women have been silenced for too long.
Like every situation, there are two sides of the spectrum but your question was really thought-provoking.
I’d love to hear your take on this question as well!
I hope to hear from you soon 🙂
Paterson, L. (2019). A History of the Struggles of Women in Literature and Virginia Woolf’s ‘A Room of One’s Own’. Literary Cultures, 2(1).
Congratulations on a very well written and well researched paper on an extremely important topic. Your main premise that social media platforms have enabled sexual harassment victims to establish online communities where they can discuss their experiences and offer support to one another is very well illustrated and backed up by a number of great examples, especially the #metoo movement. It is truly amazing how one or two strong women can empower so many to stand up for themselves and bring to light the vastness of the injustices that have been purveyed upon them. Sexual harassment, particularly against women, is a worldwide problem and has gone on for far too long and it is through the empowerment offered by social media platforms that many of these perpetrators are now being flushed out and brought to justice. The safer the victims feel within these social media groups the more they will open up and reveal the full depth of the problem we all face and strive to overcome. It shouldn’t be so difficult to show respect and treat others with dignity and social media is providing the outlets to bring these problems to light and support the most effected.
Thank you Saranya for a wonderful paper on a topic that means so much to so many.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read my paper. You’ve pinpointed exactly what the paper was about. I completely agree with you, the influence of people in power is extremely significant, especially on social media platforms and it’s amazing to see what differences can be made in terms of social and political changes when they use their platforms to speak up and give a voice to the voiceless.
As you said, there should be equality amongst males and females, especially today as times have changed immensely, we have the education and resources to educate ourselves on matters that really matter.
Thanks for your feedback!
Hi Saranaya I really enjoyed your paper it had strong examples such as the #metoo movement which had similar effects as #ArabSpring which you noticed in my paper, each playing critical parts in bringing about social change. I feel both the hashtags in our papers are very similar as the use of each of them could result in judgment and isolation from certain people when used in different social and political climates. Arab Spring due to the fact people were rebelling against the government may face judgment by others for their political views, just as people speaking out about sexual assault may be subject to judgment by others around them as well. Ultimately your paper was eye opening on how effective the #metoo movement can and has been in creating social change and i thank you for that knowledge.
Thank you so much for your time!
It’s amazing to see how such a simple tool is able to create and influence our society both politically and socially and the magnitudes of the movements in both our cases were very widespread. Online communities can create such a big influence and should be utilized more as there are a lot of issues that still need to be tackled!
Your paper was very informative and well structured. I really like the point you put forward about anomity and privacy that victims can have when interacting about their abuser online. I did heard about the #metoo movement but I really understand the power that mouvement have when reading your paper.
But I have a question for you, what do you think about people who used the #metoo movement to discredit innocent people. Because I did saw many man complaining about being exposed as abuser online but did nothing and this was prove afterward. It is so easy to denounce anyone we want online with movement like the #metoo movement but what about people not using this movement or the platforms as they should?
Hope to hear from you soon!
Thank you so much for reading my paper. It’s really frustrating to see all these injustices in the world and it’s amazing to see how social media can help eradicate or bring awareness to these issues.
Coming to your question, I think this comes as no surprise as there are always people looking to discredit other people due to many factors. With a movement like this, there’s no control over what anyone puts out on social media, and while it allows survivors to expose the guilty and while it also gives them a voice and the power to stand up for the injustice, there will be people who take advantage of such situations due to maybe feeling as though they have been wronged or treated unfairly. You’re definitely right, I’ve also come across people who have been wrongfully accused on social media and this is something I should’ve discussed in my paper.
Another example I can think of in regards to discrediting innocent people is in India, where innocent people are discredited instantly without any proof and I think this is extremely unjust and needs to be stopped.
With movements like this one, I think there will always be people who are not using the platforms in the way they should but I think it’s important to still speak up on these issues and let these movements run as it will definitely raise awareness which may eradicate these issues for future societies and generations.
What are your perspectives on this? I’d love to hear your thoughts as well!
Thank You for your paper which I am sure must be an eye-opener for many of your readers. You have chosen a very nice movement to exemplify your arguments on the topic. which makes your paper even more interesting and informative. I particularly enjoyed your part on anonymity and your idea of the ‘global village’ as I think that it is a very important aspect for survivors who are not at ease with sharing their stories publicly and giving them a kind of “safe space” to voice out without any problem.
However, there are also a lot of sexual assaults online through cyberbullying. For those survivors, do you think that social media platforms are still relevant to them since their sexual assault happened online? I would love to hear your point of view on that!
Hope to hear from you soon.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read my paper!
I think anonymity is one of the best tools social media has offered its users because it allows them to gain confidence and speak up on issues without having to disclose personal information.
Wow, this is a very thought-provoking question but I think social media platforms are still relevant to these survivors because that’s how they can regain their power back and if other people are doing it, this will encourage them to come forward and speak up about their sexual assault through cyberbullying. I think this would definitely raise awareness of cyberbullying in regards to sexual assault, and, this may pave the way for future movements as well.
What are your thoughts on this?
I’d love to hear it!
Wow! A great piece of work! You have done a good job at explaining concepts that may not have been known to a generalist audience, such as participatory culture, ‘global village’ and ‘imagined communities’ with great use of references.
I support the #MeToo movement and believe online communities have inspired individuals to share their story and to further raise awareness, especially through the option of anonymity online. Your paper makes me think of the trend on TikTok to the song ‘Stand Up’, that has amassed over 91K videos. Users began creating videos after the statistic that 97% of women have been harassed/assaulted or have been made uncomfortable by men within their lifetime. This allowed for victims to share their stories and the experiences they’ve had, despite some users contradicting that it could not be possible for nearly 100% of women have experienced these events. It just goes to show that even though women are sharing their stories, creating movements and attending protests, that many will disregard the events they have been through and will continue to belittle their value… Overall, a great paper 🙂
Thank you so much for taking the time to read my paper 🙂
I totally agree with you, I think this is the case because expressing or speaking up about sexual assault has not yet become normalized as I feel like people will still be judged regardless of what they’ve gone through which makes some people skeptical of sharing their stories. I’d 100% agree with you on the anonymity and how it allows people to freely speak their mind online and this provides them with an atmosphere of comfort and privacy and I think this is an amazing function that social media platforms have now embedded into their platforms.
I think that we still have a long way to go in trying to abolish sexual assault and eliminate the unjust faced by women and the #MeToo movement is just a stepping stone in the right direction!
Hi Saranya !
What an interesting piece of work with well supported arguments.
In fact, social media platforms have helped public sphere community to nurture and expand to a global audience. The #MeToo movement is a call for action and bring social change. I remember it was back in 2006 on MySpace and sexual harassment survivors be voicing out and provide online support forums but they seem to shout from far away. This topic got me thinking how the influencers like Alyssa Milano, are so powerful and she was able to create the buzz about it, right ? Social media influencers are the role models and advocate who question and take a stand against the system. For the rest, you nailed it!
Thank you for taking the time to read my essay! Yes, you’re right. I feel like if more influencers were to speak up about the injustices they’ve faced or are happening worldwide, the call for social change would improve for the better. Although, the majority of influencers have now started to tweet about issues they feel are unjust, such as the BlackLivesMatter movement which is another good example of influencers influencing social change.