‘Bring Back Our Girls’ photos on Twitter are not of missing Nigerians

BY Colleen Shalby  May 9, 2014 at 2:38 PM EST

This photo is unrelated to the missing Nigerian girls.

What if your face was used to represent something vastly disconnected from yourself?

That’s the case with three photos that have been shared thousands of times on Twitter in connection with the #BringBackOurGirls campaign. The photos portray girls in Guinea-Bissau — more than 1,000 miles away from Nigeria — who are completely unrelated to more than 250 girls that Boko Haram kidnapped.

Ami Vitale, the photographer of the images, spoke with New York Times’ James Estrin on Thursday. Vitale said that the photos were meant to portray a beautiful side of Africa, one separate from the stories of famine and abduction.

“This is misrepresentation … We can’t pick up any photo and use it out of context,” said Vitale.

One of the images was created by Emmanuel Hephzibah, a Nigerian creative director, and was widely shared when singer Chris Brown posted it to his Twitter account.


Interactive map shows when #BringBackOurGirls popped up in countries outside of Nigeria.

The #BringBackOurGirls campaign began on April 23 when Nigerian Ibrahim Abdullahi tweeted out the plea. Soon after, Oby Ezekwesili did the same. Since that time, the hashtag has been tweeted out more than 2.1 million times.

It’s true that Twitter can be used as a rallying cry for change. But it can also fall within the realm of armchair activism. If you share something without fully understanding what it is you’re sharing, does it count?

Correction: This article originally had an incorrect description below a tweet.