What can Twitter really do?
by Franklin Clark, Reporter -- fclark@cadizrecord.com
May 21, 2014 | 97 97 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A Twitter campaign aimed at raising awareness of the April 2014 Chibok, Nigeria, kidnapping - which was perpetrated by west African terrorist group Boko Haram (“Non-Muslim Teaching is Forbidden”) - has garnered varying opinions.

The hashtag #BringBackOurGirls was started by Nigerians trying to get Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan to respond and rescue the approximately 276 students who were kidnapped last month.

This month, the U.S. and other countries have pledged their support to help locate and rescue the young girls, who Boko Haram kidnapped because they were trying to get an education, with the intention of marrying them off - really selling them into sex slavery.

Almost all people can agree that Boko Haram is a monstrous group, and that the world would be a better place if they disappeared overnight. Muslims, Christians and others around the world are fairly unified in calling foul on these guys. But can a social media compaign actually do any good?

This one does seem to have at least helped put public pressure on Jonathan to actually do something. His administration notoriously corrupt, and many officials in Nigeria, especially in the northern part, do have ties to the group.

Indeed, director of the Atlantic Council’s Africa Center J. Peter Pham said, “The worst aspect of the Nigerian government’s handling of the abduction is its seeming indifference to the plight of the girls’ families. It took more than two weeks before Jonathan addressed the matter in public.”

But raising awareness, in general, only does some good if the person who is now aware educates themselves on the issue and then does something, anything at all, about. Awareness by itself does just about nothing, and some people do like to pat themselves on the back and think they’ve accomplished something just by raising awareness.

Hopefully, in this case, the foreign advisors can help the Nigerian government find the students and/or take out Boko Haram.

Of course, when First Lady Michelle Obama shared a picture of her holding a piece of paper with the hashtag, the campaign became automatically bad to some conservatives, especially professional bomb-throwers like Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter. Anything she does is automatically bad to people like that; it’s a bit of an unthinking, conditioned response.

Of course there was the #Kony2012 hashtag, which was started by a fringe group using outdated information and ultimately did absolutely nothing, so it isn’t like there’s no argument against only raising awareness.

***

I hope everyone reading this took the time to participate in the Primary Election yesterday. Even primaries matter, especially local ones. Sadly, I won’t know what the results or turnout are before this editorial is finished.

I’m proud that this paper and WKDZ work together to put on local debates so that people’s local votes can be more informed. Not every community has that luxury.

Franklin Clark is a reporter for the Cadiz Record and can be reached by email at fclark@cadizrecord.com.
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