Former White House intern Monica Lewinsky, most well-known for her affair with former US president Bill Clinton, has joined Twitter and spoken of her experiences as one of the first victims of cyberbullying.
Speaking yesterday at Forbes’ 30 Under 30 Summit in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Lewinsky broke her decade-long silence about the affair and its aftermath. She revealed the fallout left her unable to leave her house or live a normal life for years.
After the news of the affair broke in 1998, Lewinsky said, she was arguably the first person whose reputation was destroyed on the internet.
“There was no Facebook, Twitter or Instagram back then. But there were gossip, news and entertainment websites replete with comment sections and emails could be forwarded.
“Of course, it was all done on the excruciatingly slow dial-up. Yet around the world this story went. A viral phenomenon that, you could argue, was the first moment of truly ‘social media’.”
The release of the Starr report, which included intimate details of Lewsinsky’s affair with Clinton, marked a low point for her, in a world where 24-hour news and most significantly, the internet, were becoming used to spread those details.
“I would read later that when Congress released the Starr Report online it was the first time you missed history being made if you didn’t have access to the internet,” she said in her speech.
“The image of strangers reading the report was endless – there was no border. That amplified by a thousand fold the shame and humiliation I felt.”
Lewsinsky now wishes to launch a “cultural revolution” against cyberbullying. She has also joined Twitter, opening her own account yesterday and already attracting nearly 60,000 followers at time of writing.
Monica Lewinksy image via Shutterstock