The Content Analysis Of #metoo Social Movement On Twitter

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Introduction

The Me Too Movement launched in the winters of 2017 was originated by actress Alyssa Milano who urged the victims of sexual abuse for sharing their stories on social media especially Twitter in wake of the misconduct accused against Harvey Weinstein (Hollywood executive) (Anderson & Toor, 2018). The “Me Too” phrase was tweeted and re-tweeted more than 200,000 times by the end of 15th October 2017 on Twitter while more than 4.7 million people across the globe made posts using “me too” hash-tag on Facebook in 24 hours after used initially (Manikonda, et al., 2018). The movement caused worldwide social and political unrest as millions of people were accused of sexual harassment including chairman and chief executive of CBS who had to resign amid allegations of sexual misconduct on 9th September, 2018 (Brünker, et al., 2020). 

The #MeToo hash-tag was used roughly around 19 million times on Twitter during 2017-2018 with huge surges around news events. This means that on average 55,319 users used #MeToo per day on Twitter for sharing their stories or concerns over sexual harassment (Modrek & Chakalov, 2019). The figure 1 below shows the rise in the number of tweets on 17th October and 6th December during 2017 while the surges were seen on 9th and 27th September in 2018. The movement resulted in resignations of Harvey Weinstein and Leslie Moonves while pushed Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford to testify before Senate during 2017 and 2018 respectively (Brunner & Partlow-Lefevre, 2020). 

Similar to other social justice or women empowerment movements based on the notion of “breaking silence”, the purpose of “#MeToo” was to empower the women through showing empathy and solidarity against harassment and sexual assault especially in the workplace (Xiong & Boatwright, 2019). Number of high profile celebrities and politicians around the world got engaged with the movement through their responses and posts on social media. Celebrities like Lady Gaga, Evan Rachel Wood, Debra Messing, Uma Thurman, Jennifer Lawrence, Ashley Judd and Gwyneth Paltrow also responded to sexual harassment and called upon attention towards this important social issue (Bhattacharyya, 2018). Since social media enables the real-time conversation between the active and non-active users, so analyzing the impact of social media on interactive communication during such movement appeared to be an attractive research domain for the current study. 

Literature Review

Manikonda et al. (2018) analyzed the role of Reddit and Twitter for sparking the #MeToo movement by obtaining the python APIs used for communication. The data of 621,000 posts from 205,500 Twitter users and 190 posts from 70 Reddit users concluded that Twitter only persuaded the users to share others’ stories for continuing the #MeToo movement instead of sharing their own experiences through social media. However, Reddit appeared to be more interactive as it allowed users to share their own experiences in depth with others. However, the study emphasized on the role of Twitter for acting as a starting point for social law-making and social-justice movements like Me Too. 

Brunker et al. (2020) also analyzed the role of social media for igniting the social movement that can bring social changes on issues like sexual harassment and discrimination. The study collected 960,000 tweets of the 609,170 accounts during 2017 from Twitter using MySQL database and Search API. The results indicated that the tweets were mostly posted by journalists (20.5%) followed by private persons (20.5%), celebrities (18.5%) and media organizations (13%). Surprisingly, the study revealed that the activists, politicians and NGOS contributed way less in the debate on #MeToo on twitter as compared to social bots, celebrities and journalists.

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