BBC

Washington

Monica Lewinsky has taken to the stage at the Ted (Technology, Entertainment and Design) conference to call for a more compassionate internet.

The former White House intern’s love affair with President Bill Clinton made headlines around the world in 1998. Describing herself as one of the first victims of cyberbullying, she said the internet had created a culture where people enjoyed viewing other’s shame online. Her speech received a standing ovation. It is only the second time she has spoken publicly since disappearing from the public eye in 2005. In October she spoke at Forbes’ Under 30 Summit. She began her speech by joking she was the only 40-something who did not wish to be 22 again. ‘At the age of 22, I fell in love with my boss. At the age of 24, I learned the devastating consequences.’ The internet, she said, had made her own personal humiliation far worse. ‘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.’ And this particular scandal was, she said, ‘brought to you by the digital revolution’. ‘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,’ she told the Ted audience. Although there was no social media in 1998 as we know it today, images of Ms Lewinsky famously wearing a black beret quickly went viral online as did comments posted in response to online articles while jokes based on the details of her affair were emailed around the world.