Assistant Professor of Economics Sepideh Modrek didn't know it at the time, but her 2 a.m. screenshots of #MeToo tweets would be the foundation for her latest research project.
As her Twitter feed filled up with friends and acquaintances disclosing details of their own abuse, she says, something compelled her to start archiving the tweets. One night she stayed up until 2 a.m. taking screenshots of #MeToo tweets, ultimately compiling 400 pages of shots.
Her research, published Sept. 3 in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, is a snapshot of the online movement during that first week when it reached critical mass. With the help of machine learning, Modrek and her research assistant Bozhidar Chakalov studied more than 12,000 #MeToo tweets posted between Oct. 15 and 21, counting every undeleted #MeToo tweet and describing the magnitude of the movement in terms of size, demographics and the personal narratives shared.
“A lot of people spoke up and publicly shared these experiences,” she said, “and it completely changed our dialogue. I wanted to capture and honor their courage.”