Monica Lewinsky, the White House intern who had an affair with President Bill Clinton, says she's determined to apply her experience of being publicly shamed to helping the victims of cyberbullying.
Lewinsky, 41, spoke on Monday in Philadelphia at the first Under 30 summit sponsored by Forbes magazine.
"I was Patient Zero," Forbes quoted her as saying. "The first person to have their reputation completely destroyed worldwide via the Internet.
"There was no Facebook, Twitter or Instagram back then. But there were gossip, news and entertainment websites replete with comment sections and emails which could be forwarded. Of course, it was all done on the excruciatingly slow dial up. Yet around the world this story went. A viral phenomenon that you could argue was the first moment of truly social media."
Her 1998 affair with the president led the House of Representatives to impeach him. He was acquitted by the Senate.
But Lewinsky said that she herself was deeply ashamed and even had suicidal thoughts, Forbes reported.
She moved to the U.K. and got a master's degree in social psychology from the London School of Economics.
But years later the suicide of a Rutgers University freshman after he'd been secretly filmed kissing another man in their dorm room led Lewinsky to tackle the subject of cyberbullying.
"Having survived myself, what I want to do now is help other victims of the shame game survive, too," she said, according to Forbes. "I want to put my suffering to good use and give purpose to my past."
As part of that effort, she has joined Twitter.
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