Can a hashtag offer any help to abducted girls?

New Pittsburgh Courier

michelle hashtag_s640x480In this Twitter photo, first lady Michelle Obama pleads for the safe return of more than 200 girls kidnapped by terrorists in Nigeria.

Parents of the kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls are hoping for a miracle. So far, all they have is a hashtag.

More than three weeks after Islamic extremists abducted the girls, world outrage is galvanizing Twitter and other social-media networks. But observers question whether the burst of online interest will last and whether it can ever elevate the case from a trending topic to a mandate for action.

“People are finally taking it seriously,” said Fayokemi Ogunmola a Nigerian-born sophomore at the University of Rochester who leads her campus Pan-African Students Association. Ongumola had followed the story since it broke April 15 but only recently saw more interest among classmates using the #BringBackOurGirls hashtag and wearing head wraps or the green and white of the Nigerian flag.

“It’s a…

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