#MeToo Founder Tarana Burke says it isn’t just another social movement
Tarana Burke and Ian Mackenzie, CCO, FCB/SIX, speak on the motive behind creating a blockchain protected platform called ‘Act Too’ three years after the #MeToo movement spread like wildfire
Marking the third anniversary of the viral #MeToo hashtag movement started against sexual harassment, Tarana Burke, Founder of the ‘Me Too’ Movement and FCB/ SIX have globally launched a first-of-its-kind blockchain protected platform called ‘Act Too’ to put an end to sexual violence.
Tarana Burke and Ian Mackenzie, Chief Creative Officer, FCB/SIX, spoke to Neeta Nair on the motive behind creating this new ‘action hub’ three years after the #MeToo movement spread like wildfire globally through the sheer power of voice and social media.
A three year anniversary of #MeToo is a great time to launch a platform like ‘Me Too. Act Too’, but the problem with social movements especially on the internet is that it has a short shelf life. Do you think this platform and the campaign can change that?
Tarana Burke: I do. We believe that ‘Me Too’ is not just another social movement, and ‘Act Too’ isn’t just another internet campaign — it’s a blockchain record and a digital platform that will live forever. Our goal in creating Act Too was to create an accessible utility that helps people directly impact the issue. The issue of sexual violence doesn’t have a short shelf life and didn’t start on the internet, and so ‘Me Too. Act Too’ won’t either. The platform exists to help the everyday citizen move the needle. The campaign aspect was simply to bring awareness that the platform exists. As long as sexual violence is an issue, people around the world will be able to use Act Too to help the fight against it.
What steps are you taking to market the ‘Me Too. Act Too’ platform and through what mediums?
Ian Mackenzie: To spread awareness for Act Too, FCB/SIX has created a multi-faceted campaign, including a launch video featuring Tarana Burke, a social influencer programme, digital billboards in places like NYC’s Times Square, plus programmatic online media that delivers relevant actions to our audience based on their interests, or contextually based on which content they are consuming.
One thing social media does beautifully is make the most honest voice echo and reach even the unsuspecting user; and make them aware of burning topics across countries… Can a website/ platform do the same and have the same reach or will the fight only be restricted to those who access the platform on a regular basis?
Tarana Burke: Good question. Absolutely, Act Too is similar to search engines in that its functionality improves with usage. The more you interact with it by browsing actions tailored to you, adding to your to-do list, and completing actions, the smarter its recommendations engine become. Working with FCB/SIX, we took inspiration from the best e-commerce platforms out there. This isn’t just a website. When users complete an action through the Act Too platform, a block is automatically generated, and becomes one piece that fills in a digital mural representing a moment in the history of the movement to end sexual violence. This is our ‘Monument to the Movement’.
Ian Mackenzie: The platform is built to facilitate sharing and ongoing engagement. It’s powered by a similar recommendation engine technology that an e-commerce platform might use. This means that the more you engage, the more likely it is to serve you actions relevant to your needs and interests. It can also create a personalized to-do list of actions you can take to help the cause. In addition to sending an actionable list to your inbox, it also starts an ongoing relationship with the ‘Me Too’ movement itself, which can follow up with additional recommendations in the future.
What are the various tools available to make this platform and its voice reach as many people as possible?
Ian Mackenzie: To help spread the campaign, you can share an action. You can also share the record of the action you’ve taken, in the form of a striking 64-character share-ID, which is itself a tile on a beautiful Monument to the Movement. Collectively, each tile contributes a piece to a composite digital mural of one of several iconic forebears of the fight to end sexual violence, from Rosa Parks to Harriet Jacobs. You can share the launch video, featuring Tarana Burke. And you can share the platform itself, for other users to discover. Finally, we’re inviting the world to Act Too in ways that go even beyond this platform. Any company, any brand, any person can do the work to help end sexual violence and ‘Act Too’.
Give me an example of how the ‘Me Too. Act Too’ platform will help people/ activists in their crusade against sexual violence? How can the non-victims participate in this?
Tarana Burke: Some of us can’t march down the streets or organize, but we can have conversations with our children, or listen to podcasts that center on survivors’ voices. Our utility is cognizant of that too. If you start browsing the site focused on podcasts you want to listen to, it pays attention to that and shows you other podcasts based on your interests. Act Too says that the movement to end sexual violence is not only possible, but it belongs to everyone — it is part of our moral duty. The biggest job of non-survivors or allies alike is to help shift culture, but many of us are so steeped in the culture that we don’t know where to begin. The ‘Me Too. Act Too’ platform helps the everyday person to navigate and find tangible ways, both large and small, that can make a difference.
We have been hearing of using blockchain technology for activism, you have actually done that here, how will it bring in more accountability and help the marginalized voices?
Ian Mackenzie: So we are recording every act taken on the Act Too platform to the blockchain. We’re doing this for two reasons. First, to record a permanent, immutable record of what happens during this part of the movement. Second, to send a signal to the world that the way we have been recording the stories of survivors and activists has, for the most part, not been good enough. The fact that the stories of this movement and the activities are so under siege by traditional systems of power that it needs to resort to blockchain technology to protect its work, is itself a powerful signal and, we hope, a motivator for engagement and action. In other words, the medium itself is the message.
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