How call to rescue kidnapped Nigerian girls spread around the world

NEW YORK - The Ursuline School color is blue, but many of the students at the all-girls school in suburban New Rochelle wore red on Wednesday.

"We're not in Nigeria with them, but we're marching too!" said one student.

Red is the color of protest in Nigeria, where angry citizens are demanding the government rescue nearly 300 teenage girls kidnapped from their school by the Muslim extremist group Boko Haram.

The girls at the Ursuline School say they learned about the mass kidnapping on Twitter.

The abduction occurred on April 15, but the story did not gain traction online until April 23, when two Nigerians tweeted, "#BringBackOurDaughters."

Within days, a new slogan -- #BringBackOurGirls -- was being shared around the world.

The messages skyrocketed from a couple thousand to a quarter-million on April 30, the day the kidnappers threatened to marry off their hostages or sell them.

Activists and celebrities posted online demands for action, including singer Mary J. Blige and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. By Tuesday, #BringBackOurGirls had been tweeted a million times.

New York University professor Beth Noveck follows social media's impact on government.

"What this has done is brought it to popular attention by using essentially a bumper sticker, a hashtag that gets people talking, that gets people sharing the idea with one another," she said.

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Students at the Ursuline School in New Rochelle, N.Y., said they learned of the plight of the Nigerian girls through social media.
CBS News
It's a lesson the students at Ursuline are learning.

Veronique Ntumba is about to graduate. Would she have known about the mass abduction if not for social media?

"Probably not, which is really sad," she said. "As the days went on, you see more and more people tweeting about it."

As of Wednesday, the slogan #BringBackOurGirls has been tweeted more than 1.3 million times.

What really seemed to hit home for the Ursuline students was that the kidnap victims are their own age.


  • Michelle Miller

    Michelle Miller is an award-winning CBS News correspondent based in New York, reporting for all CBS News broadcasts and platforms. Her work regularly appears on the "CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley", "CBS This Morning" and "CBS Sunday Morning with Charles Osgood". She joined CBS News in 2004.

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