Monica Lewinsky Joins Twitter to Fight Online Shaming and Harassment


Monica Lewinsky was at the crux of the Internet-era’s first great scandal and she took a lot of abuse on AOL, UseNet and other early online message boards. Now, some 16 years later, she is dedicating herself to putting a stop to the Internet’s culture of shaming by going into the belly of the beast. She has joined Twitter, where she will begin her campaign.

Lewinsky says she has had it with the toxic social atmosphere of the Internet and wants to start a “cultural revolution” against the sort of online humiliation that she once endured.

Calling herself the “patient zero” of cyberbullying, Lewinsky says she’s “the first person to have their reputation completely destroyed worldwide via the Internet.”

And now she’s finally fighting back.

“There was no Facebook Twitter or  Instagram back then, but there were gossip, news and entertainment websites replete with comment sections and emails which could be forwarded,” said Lewinsky, speaking to an audience in Philadelphia earlier today. “A viral phenomenon that, you could argue, was the first moment of truly ‘social media’.”

Lewinsky made a bold leap on Twitter at 9:03 a.m Monday morning with a tweet that simply said “#HereWeGo.” Within five hours of posting that tweet, it was retweeted 2,000 times and favorited 1,000 times. Lewinsky had more than 22,000 Twitter followers by 2 p.m. 

The former White House intern whose affair with then President Bill Clinton saw him impeached and nearly removed from office, has been notably public in recent months, writing an essay in Vanity Fair's May issue in which she said it was time to "bury the blue dress."

In the first months after the scandal, her immunity agreement with prosecutors restricted what she could say about the affair and its aftermath, but she was able to cooperate on the 1999 book Monica's Story, Andrew Morton’s biography of her. She also granted an interview to Barbara Walters later that year and appeared in two Saturday Night Live sketches and Jenny Craig commercials. After that however, she shied away from the limelight and tried to recreate herself as a handbag designer and later attended school in England.

In 2002, no longer bound the immunity agreement, she appeared on an HBO television special where she answered questions about her life and the scandal. But since, and until earlier this year, she has been notably publicity shy and quiet about her life and the scandal.

Forbes reports that the 2010 suicide of Rutgers University student Tyler Clementi is what convinced Lewinsky that cyberbullying had to stop. Clementi’s roommate secretly filmed the freshman kissing another man and shared the video with other students over the Internet. Clementi, who was shamed and ridiculed online, killed himself by jumping off the George Washington Bridge.

Lewinsky said that back in 1998, she too was periodically suicidal. “I too, might have been humiliated to death."

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