Monika Lewinsky has called for an end to online humiliation.
Lewinsky’s love affair with President Bill Clinton made headlines around the world back in 1998 and she has described herself as one of the first victims of cyber bullying, saying the internet had created a culture where people enjoyed viewing other’s shame online.
This was the only time she had spoken publicly since disappearing from the public eye back in 2005. Her speech received a standing ovation.
She said: “At the age of 22, I fell in love with my boss. At the age of 24, I learned the devastating consequences.
“In 1998, after having been swept up in an improbable romance, I was then swept up into the eye of a political, legal and media maelstrom like we had never seen before.”
She said this particular scandal was brought by the “digital revolution” and added: “When the story broke it broke online. It was one of the first times that the traditional news had been usurped by the internet for a major news story.
“I went from being a private figure to being a publicly humiliated one worldwide. There were mobs of virtual stone-throwers.
“I was branded a tart, a slut, a whore, a bimbo. I lost my reputation and my dignity and I almost lost my life.
“Seventeen years ago there was no name for it but now we call it cyber bullying or online harassment.”
Last year a study conducted in the Netherlands found that cyber bullying was more likely to lead young people to suicide than offline.
Lewinsky said that technology had extended the “echo of embarrassment”.
She added: “It used to only extend as far as your family, your school, your village, but now it is to the whole online community.
“The more shame, the more clicks and the more clicks the more advertising dollars. We are making money off the back of suffering.”