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Final Word: Social media sparks coverage Nigerian kidnappings deserve

The power of social media is on display when it comes to the recent story of the kidnapping of possibly more than 200 schoolgirls in Nigeria.

On April 14, individuals associated with an Islamist terror group called Boko Haram kidnapped the girls from the the Government Girls Secondary School.

In a 57-minute video released Monday, the group claimed responsibility for the kidnappings, and vowed to sell the girls either as slaves or wives, or both.

When something like this happens on the other side of the world, U.S. media outlets give it a few minutes of coverage and then move on to more outrageous headlines and domestic stories.

But this story has captured the attention of social media users. Americans and others around the world simply can’t believe that the Nigerian government can’t stop such acts of terrorism in its own backyard.

Such a thing simply couldn’t happen here, so questions are being asked through social media channels, which don’t have traditional borders. The hashtag #saveourgirls is a top trender on Twitter.

Does it matter? It might.

The U.S. offered to help the Nigerian government, which has been embarrassed by its failure to mount a real effort to find the girls. Nigeria has accepted.

Imagine if the U.S. had been called in to help in the search for the missing Malaysian airliner soon after it went missing, that it actually made a difference.

Was there social media pressure from the families of those missing? Obviously not enough to allow the Malaysian government the cover they felt they would need to ask for help.

I tend to think of Twitter as a place to go for reading material when I’m bored. With atrocities such as those in Nigeria, Ukraine, and Syria being reported every day, maybe it’s the way we reach people inspire them to act. Or shame them into it.

Either way.