How #BringBackOurGirls Spread on Twitter and Drew Attention to Nigeria’s Kidnapped Girls

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".

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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:

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.

Amnesty International created a Tumblr page for #BringBackOurGirls to raise awareness. There is also a petition, and in Nigeria and cities across the world there have been rallies demanding action.

Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan pledged on Sunday to do everything possible to find the girls and has asked for international assistance. Both the US and UK are offering assistance in the case.