Nigerian Schoolgirls and Hashtag Activism

May 20, 2014 /


Ed. Note: In mid-April of this year, the kidnapping of over 200 schoolgirls from the Northeast portion of Nigeria by the Islamic extremist group, Boko Haram, was met with a tepid initial response by international media. Over the next several weeks the hashtag #bringbackourgirls, originally started by the local Nigerian community as #bringbackourdaughters, pushed the incident into the international spotlight through social media. As social media proliferation rose, so did traditional media coverage and several nations, including the United States, have begun to support the rescue effort.

We’Ced’s analysis of the incident led to a conversation about social media usage in social justice causes, sometimes called hashtag activism. We weren’t sure if hashtag activism was a lazy way of appearing to be part of a cause or an effective strategy in raising awareness.

How did you hear about the kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls? Do you support ‪#‎bringbackourgirls‬ ?

I first heard about the kidnapped Nigerian school girls during the We’Ced meeting. After reading one of the articles, I will say that I do not support the bring back our girls hashtag. I understand that the supporters are only trying to help, but it takes more than a simple tweet to make a change.

Jesus, 18

I heard it from school. In Theater Art class we always get updated on the news around the world, so this our teacher, Mr. Bettis, educated us about it. I support it #bringbackourgirls. Why? Because this is one step to help bring these young women back to their society. If we don’t start making a change then in the future it’ll be worse. So I surely support this.

Chi, 18

I first heard about the kidnapping of the Nigerian schoolgirls through the morning news. The story was presented as a foreign affairs issue but with an emphasis on the picture of Michelle Obama in the White House holding a sign with the #bringbackourgirls hashtag. I do not personally support the act of activism through social media. I believe that for there to be a change, action must be taken. Not necessarily having to travel to Nigeria and be one of the personal on the search team, but rather by making small local changes such as joining any neighborhood watch program.

Fernando, 18

I heard about the kidnapped Nigerian school girls through Facebook. I also heard about the Nigerian school girls by my Economics teacher at my high school. I support the Nigerian government finding the girls, but I do not support #bringbackourgirls.

Elder, 17

I hadn’t heard about the kidnapped Nigerian girls before the We’Ced meting. While I certainly hope the girls are rescued, I don’t feel that using the #bringbackourgirls tag will actually contribute in a significant way.

Donna, 19

I heard of the kidnapped girls from a friend of mine in class. I support the Nigerian government bringing the girls home but there is nothing I can do to in person fully support the cause.

Deborah, 17

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