Do online calls to action result in real action?
Proponents of 2011's Arab Spring web-based revolution argue Twitter transformed the landscape of corrupt grandfathered Middle Eastern regimes in a matter of weeks; to which Jon Stewart quipped, "if two speeches and a social media site is all we needed to spread democracy then why did we invade Iraq, why didn’t we just, I don’t know, poke them."
Stewart's jab at the trend of using trending topics as activism makes a valid point but it undermines the fact that through social media people are engaging in dialogue on a massive level in a public arena concerning many important global issues that otherwise would have gone uncovered by traditional news outlets.
Whether utilizing social media as a tool for political activism is a guaranteed trigger for change is still up for debate. If anything, Arab Spring proved breaking news is no longer in the hands of traditional news outlets as the most prominent news networks found themselves doing secondhand reporting on YouTube videos, Facebook Fan Page posts and Twitter feeds, just to keep up with the pace of developing information.
From Arab Spring to the recent conflict in Syria to the more recent issue in the Ukraine, all have garnered their own level of viral trending. Some posts produce invaluable insights shedding light on the shadier aspects of global crises, while most are less constructive than contagious only designed to take on a life of their own.
Now, after the Islamist militant group Boko Haram publicly took credit for the late night kidnapping of over 300 girls from their Nigerian boarding School on April 15th, The White House has decided to take the reigns of their own viral activism initiative. The #BringOurGirlsBack campaign was first launched by the First Lady Michelle Obama on May 7th, when she posted a photo of herself holding a piece of paper dawning the hashtag.
The following slideshow is a collection of the most notable posts produced out of the #BringOurGirlsBack viral initiative.