Monica Lewinsky on Instagram and Twitter's steps to combat bullying

"Change needs to happen at a faster pace than it has been," said Lewinsky.

Monica Lewinsky
Monica Lewinsky

Anti-bullying activist Monica Lewinsky applauds Instagram and Twitter for taking steps to prevent harassment on their platforms.

"I'm always appreciative when social media platforms take proactive steps to combat bullying and harassing behavior," Lewinsky said in a statement to PRWeek. "What we're seeing now with Instagram and even Twitter's recent announcement to flag global leaders' tweets when they break the rules is a recognition that change needs to happen at a faster pace than it has been."  

Earlier this week, Instagram rolled out two features to prevent bullying and help those being bullied. The preventative measure, which is already active, is an AI feature that detects offensive or harmful comments and content on its platform.

The second feature that’s in development, Restrict, protects users from "unwanted interactions." When a user "restricts" another, the person being restricted isn’t notified so it doesn’t escalate the situation. The restrictee’s comments won’t be visible to the public, and they won’t be able to see if the person being targeted is online or if they have read a direct message.

In addition, Twitter said it would label tweets that violate its terms of service. When a tweet gets flagged with this notification, it gets deprioritized in the feed’s algorithm.

"Research has shown that calling out bullying behavior before people post, as Instagram’s AI promises to do, reduces negative interactions," Lewinsky said in the statement. "Because so much of social life, especially for young people, plays out online, it’s incumbent on those driving the digital experience to make spaces as safe as possible."

Lewinsky’s turn as an anti-bullying advocate resulted from her experience following her affair with former President Bill Clinton. The event made her a target of public shame.

Lewinsky first broke her silence in a 2014 Vanity Fair essay called "Shame and Survival." Since then, her efforts have increasingly focused on advocating for a safer and more compassionate social media environment, delivering a Ted Talk on the subject in 2015.

Most recently, Lewinsky urged victims to not let bullying define them with #DefyTheName, a social media campaign where celebrities changed their Twitter display names (not handles) to the worst name they’ve been called.

With creative helmed by BBDO and PR handled by Dini von Mueffling Communications, the campaign won two Lions at the 2019 Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity. Shortlisted for 10 Lions, it ultimately took home the Silver Lion in Health & Wellness and the Bronze Lion in Film Lions in Social Behavior & Cultural Insight.

Lewinsky worked with those two agencies on another campaign in 2017, #ClickWithCampassion, which featured paid actors re-enacting real online comments in public in a PSA.

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