In Chibonk, Nigeria on the night of April 14th, 2014, 276 female students vanished from the Government Secondary School.
The group of militants entered the school pretending to be guards, ordering the girls to leave and follow them outside. This terrorist group was believed to be Boko Haram, a Nigerian terrorist group that has been terrorizing northeastern Nigeria for the past 5 years. They are a group governed by strick Sharia law in the Islamic state. They are apposed to western culture, as well as education of girls, which is why this kidnapping took place.
What happened with the girls? Some of them were sold into slavery, others were held for randsom. At this point, we are unsure how much Nigeria has done to help the situation. We do know that the first tweet was sent out by a lawyer in Nigeria and a $300,000 reward to whoever could help to locate the missing girls. In the next few weeks following, many celebrities took to social media with the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls.
Even Barak and Michelle Obama participated, sharing pictures of them holding papers that say #BringBackOurGirls. This left ripples of action in its wake. A protest began on Twitter and Facebook with thousands of people sharing their support for the girls who have gone missing and their families.
30 days following the kidnapping, Barak Obama sent 80 military personal into the neighboring region of Chad in order to help return some of the girls that were stolen. While his success was not as great as he thought it was, he was still able to rescue some girls.
The #BringBackOurGirls protest has a verified Facebook page with 236,466 likes and 224,562 followers (Facebook, 2017). It had no official Twitter or Instagram accounts, but they were both major platforms, as millions of hashtags, videos and pictures are consistently shared even today.
This story is a perfect example of one of the amazing benefits of social networking. The ability to share information for free and in an accessible way is important to make a change. The trending hashtag that took social media by storm is the reason that many of these girls are safe today. If it weren’t for people letting governments know what matters, then most likely these girls would still be missing.