Monthly Archives: May 2014

Boko Haram & Social Media

m_obama_girls_twWith the recent mass murdering of 310 people and the kidnapping of 276 school girls in Nigeria at the hands of Islamic terrorist group Boko Haram, the world has joined in outrage via social media.  The emergence of the #BringbackOurGirls hashtag may not be offering the help you think and may in fact be harming the people in Nigeria.

Terror is a tactical use of violence by groups or governments to coerce the enemy rather than weaken him militarily. That is, it has little military use but more a strategic use of violence that will “terrorize” an audience by appalling them. When this strategic use of violence is employed by groups like BH the purpose is typically one or more of the following:

1. Incentivize the terrorized audience to pressure a government to change policy

2. Demonstrate a government’s inability to provide security (and therefore govern)

3. Visibility for the org and cause-often for the purpose of recruitment

Terror as a tactic fails then if we “keep a stiffer lip,” as the people of London were said to do during Hitler’s Blitz of WWII, and ignore it. By doing this objectives 1 & 3 are undermined.


The kidnapping of these girls is a dramatic event made for mass consumption. Groups like BH don’t want attention…they require it. The hashtag plays a small but collectively substantial role in aiding the group’s cause.  Are people making demands on government to change its policy? Is BH more visible today than it was prior to the kidnapping? Do possible sympathizers to BH now see them as a force to reckoned and possibly worthy of their support? YES.

So, as a member of BH’s audience what will you do? Will you emote on social media or will you act strategically? If you’d like to take some real action and follow your intent to your impact then sign up for one of the great organizations below.  Send them a check or become active in a human rights campaign, but please do not give stage to any hate group or terrorist organization.

Amnesty International

Global Fund for Women

Human Rights FIRST

Human Rights Watch