“We passed the trust on”: Strategies for security in #MeToo activism in Sweden
European Society for Socially Embedded Technologies (EUSSET)
The #metoo movement can serve as a case for how networked online environments can provide settings for the mobilization of social movements, while also entail serious risks for those involved. In Sweden, over hundred thousand people were engaged in activities against sexual harassments and abuse, where social media were used to collect testimonies and to draft and discuss petitions that were later published in print news media. While HCI research on trust focus on how people trust technical systems, the authorities behind the system, or the user generated data, trust between peers in vulnerable communities is less researched. In this study, based on semi- structured interviews and a survey that involved 62 organizers of the Swedish #metoo movement, we therefore look into the question of how a secure and supportive environment was achieved among participants despite the scale of the activism. The result shows how trust was aggregated over networks of technical systems, institutions, people, shared values and practices. The organizers of the petitions used tools and channels at their disposal such as e.g. already established social media contexts that enabled the #metoo petitions to be formed easily and spread quickly. Establishing a supportive culture based on recognition and shared values was central for the movement. However, when the activism was scaled up, strategies were used to increase security by clarifying rules and roles, limiting access to information, restricting access to groups, and limiting the scope of communication.