On April 13th, 2014, 300 Nigerian girls were kidnapped by armed gunmen from the terrorist group Boko Haram. More than 200 of them are still unaccounted for nearly 10 months later. But Obiageli Ezekwesili, former governor minister and member of the Open Society Foundation, has not given up hope. Ezekwesili was one of the promoters of the Twitter campaign #bringbackourgirls which in turn spurred grassroots campaigns and protests around the world demanding that action be taken and the girls brought home by people from all walks of life. At the end of 2014, NPR chose to feature hashtags and Twitter slogans that started an international movement or conversation and #bringbackourgirls is a shining example. In the interview, Ms. Ezekwesili states, “The social media empowers you with the kind of information that would ordinarily not be available to you. Frankly speaking, how would you have known that this number of girls were abducted so quickly as you did, were it not for social media? You know, it would’ve taken time for traditional news to get to the nooks and crannies of the United States… What the social media does is to call the attention of those who have the power to act… You advocate so that those who should be able to act would hear you.”
The moment when real-world activism and armchair activism collide: How hashtags impacted activism and news in 2014.