The notion of a public sphere rests upon the distinction between public and private: public matters that affect society should be discussed openly, while private matters should be handled on an individual basis. While this distinction appears reasonable on its surface, it is often exploited to marginalize the shared personal experiences of women, people of color, and other disenfranchised individuals. Social media blends the line between public and private, allowing individuals to present their personal stories within a larger conversation and weave together a network of shared experience. By bringing these shared experiences to the forefront, once isolated individuals can simultaneously support one another and bring attention to systemic issues that might otherwise be derided as too private for public conversation.
Following a tweet from actress Alyssa Milano calling on women to share the phrase “me too” if they have been sexually harassed or assaulted, thousands of women disclosed experiences of sexual violence, sometimes for the first time, through the hashtag #MeToo. To understand the landscape painted by these disclosures and the effect of disclosing these experiences publicly, we study the conversational social network that emerged around the #MeToo.
The primary goals of this project are to characterize the #MeToo movement and to study how individuals disclose, provide solidarity and engage the hashtag to renegotiate the boundaries of public discussions regarding sexual violence.
- Brooke Foucault Welles, Ph.D.
- Andrea G. Parker, Ph.D.
- Elizabeth Stowell, Personal Health Informatics Ph.D. Student
- Ryan J. Gallagher, Network Sciences Ph.D. Student