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SCOTUS hearings bring resurgence of #MeToo posts

Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh prepares to testify during the third day of his confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, September 6, 2018. REUTERS/Alex Wroblewski

Post written by Brandon Boatwright

In light of recent accusations made against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, the use of #MeToo on Twitter has risen more than 425-percent over a seven day span.

Kavanaugh’s accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, alleges that he sexually assaulted her during a party in 1982. As the Senate Judiciary Committee weighs its options on how the accusation will affect Kavanaugh’s nomination proceedings, #MeToo has resurfaced on social media with renewed vigor.

Tweets using #MeToo spiked on Sept. 16, the same day Kavanaugh was accused of sexual assault.

The #MeToo movement gained significant media attention last fall, and some estimates suggest that more than 6.5 million tweets using the hashtag were sent between October 2017 and January 2018. According to our data, #MeToo was used more than 383,000 times over the course of the last seven days alone.

As more and more stories of sexual assault and harassment continue to surface, many on social media are issuing a call to action. The Kavanaugh nomination notwithstanding, it remains obvious that much more needs to be done in order to address the underlying systemic factors that enable such egregious acts. The sheer volume of tweets mentioning #MeToo is astounding. Perhaps even more significant is the hashtag’s longevity as a social movement.

A word-cloud shows the frequently most used words and phrases associated with #MeToo during the Kavanaugh hearings.

Twitter and other social platforms have become widely popular tools among activist groups looking to upend the status quo. Such was the case during the Arab Spring in 2010 and the emergence of #BlackLivesMatter.

As social media continue to serve as vehicles for social change, it’s important to monitor how these ongoing conversations not only identify a problem, but also contribute to actionable solutions.