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The Kansan - Newton, KS
  • How social media elevated the call to help abducted Nigerian girls

  • The abduction of more than 300 Nigerian schoolgirls was largely ignored until the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls took off on social media. Activists around the country are responding, and the U.S. has vowed 200 troops and $7 million to rescue the girls.
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  • The abduction of 300 girls from their dormitories in northern Nigeria earlier this month went largely unnoticed by the Western press until a social media campaign using the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls brought it to the forefront of American political discussion. The hashtag has now been tweeted more than a million times, mobilizing some to action, and the U.S. government has pledged 200 troops and $7 million to rescuing the girls. One more example of the power of social media to affect change? Perhaps. But some are arguing the attention may be exactly what the terrorist group behind the kidnappings wanted all along. The million tweets of #BringBackOurGirls didn't happen until two weeks after the abduction, when news broke that terrorist organization Boko Haram began actually selling the girls. At that point, media coverage spiked, according to an explainer article on Vox. At around the same time, prominent peole like Malala Yousafzai, Hillary Clinton and the First Lady began tweeting the hashtag. That celebrity attention helped increase the use of #BringBackOurGirls, according to a history of the short campaign on Mashable. "Maybe if the more than 200 Nigerian girls abducted from their school weeks ago were on a ferry in Korea, a jet liner in the Indian Ocean, in the owner's box at a Clippers basketball game, or were white, the world would pay more attention," Boing Boing blogger Xeni Jardin wrote. Since the social media craze, Boko Haram has been listed on the State Department's list of terrorist organizations. All the media attention may be "a double-edge sword" because that is what Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau is seeking. NBC News' Cassandra Vinograd writes, "After years of calling out to al Qaeda and taunting world leaders from Barack Obama to United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, the outcry over the kidnappings has finally put Shekau in the spotlight." "This is what Shekau always wanted. He's finally gotten placed on the world stage, and this is his time to act," said Jacob Zenn, an analyst of African for the Jamestown Foundation, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank.%3Cimg%20src%3D%22http%3A//beacon.deseretconnect.com/beacon.gif%3Fcid%3D168922%26pid%3D46%22%20/%3E
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