It’s ten years this week since Chris Messina suggested on Twitter that we use the # (pound) to organise conversations. To celebrate we’re sharing stories throughout the week that have used a hashtag to great effect and made a lasting impact on Twitter. Today, Bana Alabed and #Aleppo.
In September 2016 a simple Tweet was sent that read: ‘I need peace.’ It was the first Tweet from Bana Alabed, and it marked the start of a remarkable Twitter journey, which has allowed the world to see the Syrian conflict through the eyes of a seven-year-old-girl.
Bana’s account, which was created and run by her mother, Fatemah, has captivated the world. Her Tweets often accompanied by the hashtag #Aleppo have shown the human cost of the war in Syria and are often heartbreaking in nature. She has shared her thoughts and expressed her fears: ‘I... Hate... War. And the world has forgotten us.’
Her Twitter story has taken us all on a journey. Bana and her family fled their home and the Syrian Army whose destruction of Aleppo had been documented daily in Bana's Tweets.
For a time it became unclear where Bana was. The hashtag #WhereIsBana trended, and her Twitter account went silent before news that she was safe and on the run with her family came via J.K. Rowling. In another twist to Bana’s story, the author shared a video on Twitter from Bana. The two had struck up a conversation after Bana had Tweeted the Harry Potter author and been sent a digital copy of one of her novels.
Bana and her family escaped from Syria and made it across the border to Turkey. She might not be in Syria anymore, but Bana is continuing to tell her story. Bana Tweeted a letter to Theresa May asking for food and medicine to be sent to Syrian children, and the UK raised her plea at the United Nations. Her latest chapter is to write a book, called “Dear World”. On Twitter, as she shared the news, she wrote: ‘The world must end all the wars now in every part of the world.’