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Technology in the #MeToo Movement - Sahana Chandramohan

Updated: Jul 10, 2020

نامك_انأ # ינאמג# भी म #我也是 #

In the United States, we know these hashtags as #MeToo. While originally started in

2006 by Tarana Burke to highlight sexual harassment against women of color, it gained prominence in 2017 as celebrities opened up about their experiences on social media,

encouraging others to step forward with the hashtag.

The movement exploded, going viral in nearly a hundred countries and inspiring millions across the globe. Within 24 hours of the hashtag’s 2017 debut, there were more than 12 million Facebook posts, comments, and reactions swirling around #MeToo. As social media grows increasingly central to civil society around the world, the incorporation of online activism into social media platforms creates continuous impact, understanding, and accessibility.

The use of technology in promoting advocacy breaks down the monopolies of access and information, spurring immediate mobilization alongside increased public opportunity and participation. The presence of these issues online drives action, providing legitimacy and visibility to offline efforts while encouraging rapid change.

Today, we see the impacts of the #MeToo movement in the American government as well as in the technological sector. While the change started with the 30+ lawmakers accused of sexual harassment and assault who lost or resigned from their positions, many states are now taking direct action through changing their legislation. Spurred by the attention garnered from the movement, over a dozen states have taken steps in restricting and limiting nondisclosure agreements (NDA’s), contracts often used by predators such as Harvey Weinstein to silence sexual assault victims.

For example, Washington state terminated the requirement of signing an NDA to be eligible for a job while also voiding existing contracts. Furthermore, many states have taken measures to stop silencing sexual assault victims by eliminating the backlogging of rape kits. California recently passed Senate Bill 22, requiring rape kits to be submitted within 20

days and tested within 120 days. Yet more states are expanding their statutes of limitation for sex crimes, like New York, which is granting sexual assault victims 10 to 20 years to bring a civil suit in front of a court compared to the previous limit of 5 years. Alongside legislative changes that have occurred rapidly as the digital #MeToo movement gained traction and attention around the world are innovations in the technological sphere.

Entrepreneurs, activists, and techies have also created a plethora of platforms, programs, and apps like Callisto, tEQuitable, BetterBrave, and The Boardlist, all of which are designed to combat sexual assault while also empowering women. Botler AI is another notable program that accurately predicts law violations in sexual assault cases while connecting users to a web of suitable and valuable resources using artificial intelligence.

It is fascinating to see the impact that two simple words and one hashtag have had on the world. #MeToo was born to shed light on tragic and horrendous actions and has reached across lines and divisions to remote corners of the globe through the power of technology.

This digital movement united men and women across the world in a movement of solidarity and compassion. It has fueled the destigmatization of sexual harassment and assault, as well as the empowerment of the people who experience them. Furthermore, it has spurred huge waves of action in law, innovation in technology, and global mindset growth. Finally, it has shown us that we can make a substantial global difference by utilizing and embracing the digital world.

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