How Stuff Spreads: the #metoo movement

15th October 2018

366 days ago, a brave woman kicked off #metoo on Twitter.

It’s not who you think it is.

 To this day, her tweet has 5 RTs and 5 likes. 

Here’s the story of how #MeToo spread.

me too

The New Mexico woman was not the first one to ever post this status.



But she was the first to transfer #metoo from the relatively private confines of Facebook to the public square of Twitter. 

On Facebook 12M many statuses were reportedly shared over 24 hourson people’s private timelines, to their friends and family. There, it became something you couldn’t ignore as the evidence was right in front of people, not just happening to famous people.

But on Twitter, women were braver, speaking in a public space, and one where the backlash can be substantial. There, the cultural reboot could begin.



Alyssa Milano was of course the one to blow it up, and begin to show the "true magnitude of the problem."

Over the next 3 days, the network generated 628,457 nodes (tweets + retweets). 

But most of the sharing was carried out by a highly cohesive network of 57,074 accounts (77% female, 73% in US, 55% aged 18-34) which guaranteed a fast viral spread.

me too audiense

"It's an extremely dense network" says Pulsar CEO Francesco D'Orazio (who made this viz with @PulsarPlatform + @Gephi). 

"Almost every single tweet here has a retweet, which is super unusual for any Twitter dataset I've seen."

blue = tweets

yellow = retweets

The most popular tweet of them all –with 54,090 RTs and 151,939 likes to this day– was by journalist Alexis Benvenite. 

She acknowledged that we might be only seeing the tip of the iceberg. 

"Survivors don't owe you their story."

Tweet volume by city over the 3 days:

L.A. 12,137

London 11,817

NYC 9,066

Chicago 7,418

Toronto 5,720

SF 4,530

Seattle 4,099

Boston 3,491

Atlanta 3,316

Mexico City 3,230 

Paris 3,227

Portland 3,207

Philadelphia 3,052

New Delhi 2,821

Austin 2,751

Houston 2,739

Mumbai 2,652

Over the course of this year, #MeToo spread throughout society and spawned other hashtags and movements, including #TimesUp and #WhyIDidntReport 


The peaks in the graph coincide with Harvey Weinstein resigning, #metoo activists being named person of the year, and the Golden Globes.

And over the past 45 days, #metoo has heated up again on Twitter, as the movement exerted pressure in ousting Les Moonves, CEO of CBS, and forcing a brief political standstill over the nomination of US Supreme Court Justice Kavanaugh.


More than a decade ago, civil rights activist Tarana Burke started the movement to help describe the pervasiveness of sexual assault in society:

"I know exactly how you feel. That happened to me too,” she said.