#MeToo: How an 11-year-old movement became a social media phenomenon

The #MeToo campaign to raise awareness of sexual harassment and assault continues to prove the power of social media for activism.

“Social media has given a platform to men and women to discuss their experiences,” Jason Mollica, a digital media expert and professor at American University in Washington, told Fox News. “The quickness and strength of Twitter and Facebook allowed the #MeToo movement to gain worldwide visibility and put names and faces to those harassed and/or assaulted.” 

Recent weeks have seen a flood of sexual misconduct allegations roil Hollywood, Congress and the media.

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On Friday the “Today” show kicked off its 8 a.m. hour with a #MeToo segment just days after the morning show fired its biggest star, Matt Lauer, following sexual misconduct allegations.

The roots of #MeToo are in a movement started over a decade ago by activist Tarana Burke to harness “empowerment through empathy” for victims of sexual assault. In 2006, Burke founded Just Be Inc., a youth organization focused on the “health, wellbeing and wholeness of young women of color.”

The hashtag #MeToo began trending on social media last month after actress Alyssa Milano asked victims of sexual harassment and violence to let their voices be heard.

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Mollica cited data from social media analytics tool Talkwalker to highlight the scale of the #MeToo campaign. From Oct. 10 to Dec. 1, he explained, #MeToo has been mentioned 312,000 times across social platforms, with a reach of 1.1 billion. Some 54 percent of that conversation is coming from females. Nearly 58 percent of those using the #MeToo tag are in the U.S, he said.

“Social media has enabled men and women to, in many ways, not feel alone and give a loud warning to those who have committed these terrible acts that this is no longer going to be accepted or ignored,” he said.

Fox News’ Chris Ciaccia contributed to this article.

Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers