More than 300 schoolgirls were kidnapped in Nigeria by the Islamic extremist group Boko Haram on April 15, but it took the world and international media outlets weeks to catch on. Meanwhile, the Twitter campaign #BringBackOurGirls was brewing with people demanding action.
It was Nigerians that first took to Twitter, creating #BringBackOurGirls in an effort to spur action from their government. According to the BBC, the hashtag began trending in Nigeria a week after the mass kidnapping.
Nigerians want answers about the whereabouts of the [remaining girls]. They've also used Twitter to urge the government and the army to take more action. "#BringBackOurGirls to restore confidence," tweeted Kayodeojutaiye, an economist based in Abuja. "The capability of our government to protect us will be in doubt if they don't".
The BBC also reports the hashtag has now been tweeted more than a million times. Here is the first tweet to use #BringBackOurGirls:
According to Mashable, the hashtag started after an April 23 event honoring the city of Port Harcout, where Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, the Vice President of the World Bank for Africa, addressed the crowd, demanding the release of the girls and saying, “Bring back the girls!”
Ibrahim M. Abdullahi, who first tweeted with the hashtag told the BBC:
"Initially this was not a co-ordinated campaign. It was a number of individuals in Nigeria tweeting to raise awareness in the hope that the international community would eventually take notice."
Abdullahi also said there is now a team of people behind #BringBackOurGirls and they have recently set up the Twitter account @BBOG_Nigeria for the campaign.
Here are some more of the initial #BringBackOurGirls tweets:
Lend your Voice to the Cause of our Girls. Please All, use the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls to keep the momentum UNTIL they are RESCUED.— oby ezekwesili (@obyezeks) April 23, 2014
There is the risk of these girls missing forever except we take action now. Put the FG on its toes until they re rescued. #BringBackOurGirls— Joseph Oyekanmi (@josycastroll) April 23, 2014
The hashtag has now exploded on Twitter worldwide. According to Mashable, #BringBackOurGirls really spiked on April 30 after news reports came out saying that the girls may be trafficked and sold as sex slaves.
This timelapse map from Time shows how #BringBackOurGirls spread around the world on Twitter:
In the last week, celebrities, politicians, and world leaders also began tweeting about the incident.
Children are the reward of life. Rescue our Nigerian sisters. The world is watching, Make your voice heard. Retweet! #BringBackOurGirls— Wyclef Jean (@wyclef) May 2, 2014
Access to education is a basic right & an unconscionable reason to target innocent girls. We must stand up to terrorism. #BringBackOurGirls— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) May 4, 2014
Amnesty International created a Tumblr page for #BringBackOurGirls to raise awareness. There is also a Change.org petition, and in Nigeria and cities across the world there have been rallies demanding email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @Zeninjor.