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The rise of sexual harassment cases and information cascades

Article: https://www.ft.com/content/6973e6d6-d047-11e7-9dbb-291a884dd8c6

 

The article linked above, written by Gillian Tett, discusses the election of Donald Trump and the recent wave of sexual harassment cases. In this article, Tett, explores two factors that she believes contributed to the new surge of sexual harassment cases. These two factors, she states, are Donald Trump and information cascades facilitated by the prevalence of social media. According to Tett, Donald Trump and his election to the Presidency contributed to the rise of sexual harassment cases by empowering feminist. She states that, “When [Donald Trump] was elected, shattering hopes that Hillary Clinton might be America’s first female president, most observers presumed that his victory was bad for women. However, a year later, it has become clear that Mr. Trump has unexpectedly empowered feminists. One early sign of this was the women’s’ marches.” Tett’s claim is that Donald Trump’s election, empowered women giving them a figure to stand against. Someone who actively strives to damage any social progress made in this country.

The second key factor that Tett touches on is that of information cascades contribution to increase in sexual harassment cases. According to Tett, information cascades contributed to the upsurge of the sexual harassment cases and experiences being revealed because with the commonness of social media in our lives, information about these cases can be spread easily and accessed by large amounts of people effortlessly. This information can then be broadcasted by one victim and spread to another, who, might be inspired to share their story and thus continue the cascade. Tett states that:

If a woman wanted to complain about sexual harassment allegations two decades ago, there was a slow-moving bureaucratic and legal process. And if a reporter wanted to corroborate a story, this entailed months of painstaking research. But in cyber networks, information can spread at lightning speed, beyond the control of lawyers or traditional authority figures. Journalists can appeal for tips and be inundated within minutes. Once-powerless victims have a megaphone. Isolated victims can suddenly congregate into a crowd. Informational cascades, in other words, overturn power structures.

Information cascades in conjunction with the catalyst Donald Trump is, provided the optimal conditions for sexual harassment occurrences to finally be brought into the light.

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