Social media as instrument of global mobilisation: a textual analysis of the 'bring back our girls' campaign

Social media as instrument of global mobilisation: a textual analysis of the 'bring back our girls' campaign

The abduction of over 200 female students from Chibok in April, 2014, by the outlawed Boko Haram insurgents attracted global condemnation which went viral on social media. Such acts are at variance with international norms of freedom and respect for human dignity, as well as various articles and resolutions of the United Nations which condemn acts of abduction, trafficking in persons and terrorism. Rescuing these girls, and allowing them to partake in education which, especially in Northern Nigeria, is grossly uneven in favour of male enrollment and completion, presents a significant problem.

This study, published in the International Research Journal of Arts and Social Science, explores the instrumentality of the social media for mobilising global responses to terrorism, and support for the “bring back our girls” campaign that emerged in response to the kidnapping of the Chibok girls. The study is intended to determine: whether social media have been used to mobilise global support for the ‘Bring back our girls’ campaign; the direction of the ‘bring back our girls’ campaign text messages and comments on social media; and to verify the level of satisfaction expressed by the campaign with government efforts at rescuing the abductees.

A literature review discusses the historical stages of social media development, from the telecommunication hobbyists from the 1950s, to the various aspects of ICTs, e.g. blogs, p2p sharing etc, that have emerged in the last two decades. The methodology of the study is discussed, including the ‘frustration aggression’ and the ‘technological determinism’ theories serving as theoretical framework for the study, and the adoption of qualitative content textual analysis methodology and critical discourse analysis.

The authors findings reveal that the various campaign texts posted on social media are aimed at mobilising global support against terror, and that resulting social media texts, while positive about the campaign, expressed dissatisfaction over the slow government effort at securing the release of the girls. The study concludes that social media is a powerful tool for global mobilisation, and that leaders at all levels must be aware of the power social media brings in terms of accountability. The study recommends that alongside the military option, the global campaign be intensified to help end terrorist activities, and speed the safe release of the abducted girls. 

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