Monica Lewinsky On Cyberbullying, But We’re All Responsible

October 20, 2014

10:40 pm

With the rise of social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and Whisper, we’ve created more playgrounds for bullies to find and go after their victims. Today in Philadelphia Monica Lewinsky broke a decade of silence to share her latest mission, taking on cyberbullying. She explained during her talk at the Forbes Under 30 Summit:

“It takes a lifetime to build a good reputation but you can lose it in a minute.  That’s never been more true than today.”

Lewinsky went on to share stories of cyberbullying like that of Rutgers freshman Tyler Clementi who was recorded kissing another man and was publicly ridiculed when his roommate released the video to the Internet. Clementi, only 18-years-old, jumped off the George Washington Bridge to his death in 2010.

Lewinsky went on to say:

“Having survived myself, what I want to do now is help other victims of the shame game survive, too,” she said. “I want to put my suffering to good use and give purpose to my past.”

With tragic stories like this and even more recently, the widespread bullying and online harassment of feminist social critic Anita Sarkeesian, society must find ways to curb cyberbullying. The proliferation of social sharing and cloud storage of our most private, trusted information (which will inevitably be leaked) requires all of us to acknowledge the true risks. And truly, the other side of this cyberbullying coin is our trust in “privacy and security.” Week after week, we hear of another business leaking data or being hacked. While celebrities like Jennifer Lawrence, Kirsten Dunst and others fall victim, iCloud storage hacks further solidify the importance of understanding that your data, and your secrets, are never really safe even with Apple – a brand with which we’ve become comfortable and trusting.

Our society cannot deny that we absolutely live in public and the photos and videos we take, online searches we make, and even our current location might be released to anyone at anytime. We are constantly surrounded by others armed with HD-quality video cameras and other recording devices, along with the biggest research tool ever created allowing anyone to search for personal information that you may or may not know exists online. Our biggest risk is what we as innovators create for ourselves. So as innovators and technologists, we must demand better security and privacy in everything we do both online and off. We must demand better solutions to cyberbullying and online harassment. Startup founders and business executives have to take all of these issues into consideration as part of the product development process.

You can read the full transcript of Lewinsky’s speech and watch some highlights from her talk in the video below.

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Frank Gruber is the cofounder, CEO and Executive Editor of Tech.Co (formerly Tech Cocktail). He is the author of the book, Startup Mixology, Tech Cocktail’s Guide to Building, Growing, and Celebrating Startup Success. He is also a startup advisor and investor to startups. Find Frank Gruber online and follow him on Twitter at @FrankGruber.

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