Democracy

Mehmet Çakıroğlu

Osai Ojigho

The world has seen the rise of an emerging group of cyber-savvy and click-ready social activists who advocate for social change through the Internet using social media tools, including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Twitter popularized the use of the “#” (i.e., the hashtag) to promote trending topics or in focus for others to notice. The use of the hashtag to promote a social cause is known as “hashtag activism.” A prime example of this tactic is the Nigerian-born campaign of #BringBackOurGirls. What does this case teach us about the effectiveness of this messaging tool?

Nancy Ngo

With the emergence of social media platforms and the growth of their globally active user bases in the last decade, “hashtag activism” has become a common tactic used in global social change movements. The hashtag itself serves as a data tag in advocating for a cause, linking the participants of a campaign across platforms through a concisely packaged, unified message. The practice of hashtag activism has gained both widespread media attention for shining a spotlight on issues, including gun control policy and human rights abuses, while also drawing criticism for its limitations.

Ami V. Shah

On April 14, 2014, almost 300 schoolgirls were abducted from a government school in Chibok, Borno State, Nigeria. The world sat silently as the Nigerian Government sat on its hands. By the end of the month, fueled by reports that some of the girls may have been sold into marriage or slavery, the Nigerian-born hashtag #BringBackOurGirls gained international traction, becoming a global movement.

Elisabeth Vilà

Vicky Wong

Robert Duncan

Laura Scheriau

 

Michael J. Jordan

Tucked in the middle of South Africa, the small country of Lesotho has made great strides in recent years by strengthening its democracy and moving toward stability. Yet, it could all be for naught if the country continues to refuse to address the real crisis in the region: HIV.

Margaret Benison

Lebanese Prime Minister Tammam Salam (center) casts his vote to elect the new Lebanese president in the parliament building in downtown Beirut on April 23, 2014. (Photo: AFP-Joseph Eid)

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