#BringBackOurGirls is a social media movement founded on Twitter to bring worldwide awareness and attention to the girls abducted in Chibok, Nigeria by Boko Haram. The process/movement began in 2014 and is still ongoing.
Problems and Purpose
The#BringBackOurGirls movement was founded to address the lack of national  and international attention and awareness over the 200 abducted Chibok girls in April 2014. By monopolizing the far reaches of social media, the movement helped to put pressure on the Nigerian government to acknowledge the abducted girls and decipher a plan to retrieve the girls from the terrorist organization - Boko Haram. With social media, the movement was able to gain the attention of global communities which further aided global support/pressure which was integral in helping to advance rescue efforts.
Background History and Context
Predating the abduction of the Chibok girls, Boko Haram was—and Boko Haram currently is—a terrorist militant group that aims to overthrow the government of Nigeria.
Boko Haram also commonly refer to themselves as “Jama'atu Ahl as-Sunnah li-Da'awati wal-Jihad” which is translated to Group of the Sunni People for the Calling and Jihad. The militant group aims to eradicate Western influence in Nigeria and establish an Islamist/sharia state instead. It has been responsible for the bombings of local UN headquarters  and coordinated attacks in Kano in 2012 that killed over 185 people .
The birth of #BringBackOurGirls evolved two years later and bore witness to a worldwide movement that demanded the release and safe return of the Chibok girls. Utilizing social media to mobilize the greater community and society is not new in Nigeria; this was demonstrated in 2012 with the hashtag "#OccupyNigeria". This virtual movement was created in response to the Nigerian government’s fuel subsidy removal which significantly increased the price of fuel in Nigeria . Although #OccupyNigeria was successful in raising awareness and organizing marches and gatherings, it did not garner the same level of worldwide attention as #BringBackOurGirls. #OccupyNigeria, other hashtag/virtual movements predating #BringBackOurGirls included the #Jan25th Twitter movement, which was created to educate the wider community about the Egyptian Revolution in 2011.
Organizing, Supporting, and Funding Entities
The hashtag itself was organized by Oby Ezekwesili and Aisha Yesufu, a lawyer and an activist, respectively. It has since been supported internationally by social media participants. 
Participant Recruitment and Selection
Since the movement's inception on Twitter, the recruitment process has been open to all.  It has since extended from Twitter to other social media sites. The accessibility of social media, which acts as a productive tool, enabled the movement/hashtag to receive over 6 million tweets by 2016. Participating in the online movement was encouraged by its popularity and the reach it had in the political sphere. Former US President Barack Obama, former First Lady Michelle Obama, former President of Nigeria Goodluck Jonathan, and activist Malala Yousafzai are some of the most well-known participants in the movement; these leaders have either tweeted their support of the movement or referred to it during a press conference or interview. 
Outside of the political sphere, the movement also captured the attention of regular citizens across different nations, showing the diverse variety of participants.
Methods and Tools Used
The initial participatory process was mainly online, with information and public participation being expressed through social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.  The openness and accessibility of social media was therefore the main tool used to communicate and encourage potential participants. But as the movement gained traction, it moved from online environments to real-world engagement, as demonstrated by public demonstrations and marches. These two methods/processes are typically seen in tandem; a social media campaign frequently stimulates real-life engagement, as evidenced in other well-known movements such as #blacklivesmatter, which evolved from a virtual movement into face-to-face procedures such as protests. 
Organizers typically mix these two tactics to continue channeling public fury toward a social issue to raise awareness among other citizens and government officials/members.
The loss of momentum is one of the most common adverse effects/trade-offs associated with social media campaigns and protests. Following the initial media coverage and public anger, the movement may fade as public outrage and attention shift to the next major headline. As such, it is integral that social movements reach the attention of elected government officials to birth the political will of the people as raising awareness of a crisis will only result in physical change when it leads to social/political action. Without political action, the organizers and participants could continue to post and keep viewers updated on the movement's progress, though interest would naturally diminish as the global community eventually focuses on the next global catastrophe.
What Went On: Process, Interaction, and Participation
In addition to the hashtag movement, virtual participants organized in-person global protests and marches seen on days like April 30th, 2014, when thousands of Nigerian citizens marched on the country’s capital urging for government action . There were further global marches in the UK and the US with thousands of protesters/marchers. In addition to this, online petitions were created urging other world leaders to act. To date, the main petition created on the 24th of April 2014 has over one million signatures.
The movement's worldwide reach was a great accomplishment for its original purpose of raising awareness. The nature of this form of social media activism allows participants to freely share their opinions and have their voices heard. As such, social media can be an intentional process for participants to have a larger platform to broadcast their views–especially when attaching a hashtag at the end of their post which would ensure that their voice/tweet could potentially reach millions. By having multiple methods/techniques within the movement, those who would otherwise not attend marches/protests felt as if they could still be part of advancing the cause by sharing and spreading the movement virtually. This is likewise for those who would prefer to attend marches as opposed to engaging online. 
However, as online participation is often unregulated, the free reign of speech can affect the quality of the discourse with potential misinformation and inaccurate information. An array of diverse opinions is to be expected in social media movements especially in #BringBackOurGirls due to its popularity. There is no specific method to determine which opinion should/will be specifically listened to, although we can analyze which opinions are most popular depending on the trends and patterns from the participants in social media and protests/marches.
The outcome of the movement was heavily dependent on how it captured the hearts of its participants both online and offline-as this wide public outrage would help to lead to media attention/news stories which would in turn increase the likelihood of the state’s response. Although the movement was created to lead to government action, this is ultimately entirely dependent on the receptiveness of the state.
Influence, Outcomes, and Effects
The movement was able to influence international organizations such as the UN Security Council which condemned the actions of Boko Haram-helping to put more international pressure on Nigeria to locate the abducted girls and free them. Both Britain and America were able to send military and law enforcement officials to Nigeria to support the search operation. Such public declarations of support helped to further the movement and draw much-needed attention to efforts to rescue the girls. 
To date, a total of 98 out of the original 276 girls are still being held captive by Boko Haram nearly a decade later from their initial abduction.
The movement that originally started on social media continues to prove that thin engagement can garner global and political attention and is effective when fighting for a cause through monopolizing media attention and appealing to the wider global community.
The process encouraged citizens both in Nigeria and around the world to be more vocal and utilize other non-traditional forms of citizen participation/engagement such as social media to appeal to the state. It contributed to the ongoing trend of civilians taking the initiative and starting their own movements in response to injustices around the world rather than waiting for government representatives and media outlets to denounce an act first. Hence, #BringBackOurGirls served as a warning to global governments that the people would hold them responsible for preventable injustices. The influence of this movement can subsequently be seen in other hashtag movements like #EndSars, in which Nigerian citizens launched an online movement to protest and criticize the state’s police unit which was notorious for its long record of abuse against its citizens.
Analysis and Lessons Learned
The process was successful in raising awareness of the issue on a global scale, but it was not successful in reuniting all the abducted girls. There is often a disparity in how the global media reports tragedies/events, with a great emphasis being placed on Western affairs. Hence this was extremely helpful in keeping global audiences aware of what was occurring in Nigeria. 
We can infer from the decline in media coverage of #BringBackOurGirls—despite the fact that some girls are still missing over ten years later—that public outcry is fleeting in a world where the media primarily covers the next tragedy or humanitarian disaster. The focus of social media soon moves to the next crisis or major news event. As a result, it is difficult to retain public interaction and interest. This is relevant to the shortcomings of the movement. 
To avoid activism being reduced to a retweet, repost, or like in the future, organizers should clarify how participants can take real action. The application of these proposals can be observed in the #endsars movement, where organizers and participants were able to develop coalitions and engage the government to create alternative law enforcement organizations.
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 Institute of Development Studies. (2021, August 19). New forms of social and political action: A study of #BringBackOurGirls. Institute of Development Studies. https://www.ids.ac.uk/projects/new-forms-of-social-and-political-action-a-study-of-bringbackourgirls/#:~:text=The%20%23BringBackOurGirls%20(%23BBOG)%20campaign,%2C%20gender%2C%20ethnicity%20and%20religions.
The original submission of this case entry was written by Sharon Boateng, a Master of Public Service candidate at the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service. The views expressed in the current version are those of the authors, editors, or cited sources, and are not necessarily those of the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service.