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Twitter’s top trending hashtag worldwide, #illridewithyou, shows how social networks can be a force for good. Australian samaritans are using the hashtag to lend support to Muslim citizens on their daily commute, in case of a racist attack.

What’s #illridewithyou All About?

A gunman took dozens of hostages in a cafe in Sydney, Australia, on Monday, December 15. He was presumed to be an Islamic extremist, after he asked for a flag of ISIS among his demands. While the gunman’s actions are clearly to be condemned, innocent Muslims – particularly those who wear traditional garb – were afraid of hateful speech or even violence following these events. Almost half of Australia has anti-Muslim sentiments, according to a recent report.

And Australia has seen racial attacks in public before. There was the school boy verbally abused by a 50-year-old woman, a 55-year-old lady ranted against a couple of kids in a train, and a Muslim woman was bashed and thrown from a moving train. After that last incident, Muslim activists said they have seen a “massive spike in racist attacks,” the Herald Sun reported.

Amidst fears of a similar backlash against the Islamic community after the hostage situation, this Twitter campaign brings hope.

Australians across the nation started tagging the location of their daily commute on Twitter with the hashtag #illridewithyou, showing support to their fellow Muslim citizens and assuring them of protection. The hashtag has quickly gone viral, with people across the world praising it.

(In case you’re wondering what a hashtag is, here’s everything you need to know #Clueless? Everything You Need To Know About Twitter Hashtags #Clueless? Everything You Need To Know About Twitter Hashtags Some people #use #them #for #every #freaking #word; others ignore them altogether. It might leave you wondering: what are hashtags even for? Am I using Twitter wrong if I don't use them? And are people... Read More .)

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How to Find or Offer Help With #illridewithyou

An unfortunate offshoot of the hashtag is that people are praising or commenting about it, which means those genuinely offering help or needing it are unable to find the tweet that can help them out. If you are an Australian looking to find someone else on your route, here’s how to use Twitter’s search feature to find things relevant to you Twitter Search: 4 Ways To Find Results That Matter To You Twitter Search: 4 Ways To Find Results That Matter To You Twitter search has its limits. For one, you can only search back so far, with Twitter making public search results available only for a limited period of time. That said, there are a few tips... Read More .

  1. Go to Twitter’s Advanced Search.
  2. In the field for “These Hashtags”, write #illridewithyou.
  3. In the field for “Any Of These Words”, write one word that is relevant to your commute. If it needs two or more words, add quotation marks before and after the phrase; for example, “Sydney Opera House”.
  4. Hit Search or Enter.
  5. In the search results, click the “All” button (it’s set to Top tweets by default).

illridewithyou-twitter-search-advanced-results

To reply, you will need to sign up for Twitter or log in if you already have an account. And if you haven’t signed up already, you should. This isn’t the first time social networking has had a positive impact on society The Positive Impact Of Social Networking Sites On Society [Opinion] The Positive Impact Of Social Networking Sites On Society [Opinion] Social networking isn't for everyone, but it's now such a massive part of all our lives, whether we embrace or reject the notion, that it can no longer be ignored. But are social networking sites... Read More .

How the #illridewithyou Hashtag Started

Funnily, the spark for the hashtag started on Twitter’s rival social network, Facebook. An Australian lady named Rachael Jacobs posted two updates, which was shared on Twitter by TV producer and host Michael James:

Sydney native Tessa Kum was moved by it and tweeted:

And in no time, it spread like wildfire. The #illridewithyou hashtag is one of those moments where you realise the power of social networking and how it can be a harbinger of good. You need to only check out the #illridewithyou hashtag on Twitter to see its impact. Melbourne native Ozge Sevindik’s tweet says it all:

Eventually, Rachael Jacobs also appeared on Twitter, closing a loop and giving the hashtag a life of its own:

Twitter Australia puts the whole hashtag in perspective as it became the top trending hashtag worldwide:

Finally, BBC News got to speak with Tessa Kum about the hashtag and the response:

Tell Us Your #illridewithyou Story

The hashtag has been inspiring to us, and we’re sure, to you. And we want to hear from you.

  • If you used #illridewithyou, tell us your story.
  • If #illridewithyou touched you in some way, tell us your story.
  • If you have any story about #illridewithyou or similar incidents in the past, now is the time to share it.

Sources: Time, Buzzfeed, ABC News

  1. Ctownbos2
    December 16, 2014 at 12:55 pm

    Yay. Now how about these good muslims come up with a feel good hashtag to support the victims of terrorists?

  2. Nahla
    December 16, 2014 at 12:11 pm

    I haven't heard about this story. Thanks for the heads up. This is similar to #NotInMyName in a way, I guess.

    • Mihir Patkar
      December 17, 2014 at 4:57 pm

      In a way, yeah. I'm quite digging #NotInMyName too.

  3. Jessica C
    December 16, 2014 at 2:59 am

    Great write-up, Mihir. You summarized what's happening in Australia, gave background on the racial climate in the country, and explained the origins and growth of the hashtag.

    That's a lot covered in under 700 words!

    • Mihir Patkar
      December 16, 2014 at 3:32 am

      Thanks Jessica :)

    • Mihir Patkar
      December 16, 2014 at 5:33 am

      Thanks Jessica :)

  4. dragonmouth
    December 15, 2014 at 9:12 pm

    While the reaction is very heartwarming, it is possible for the racists to use bogus #illridewithyou tweets to lure their targets out into the open.

    • Mihir Patkar
      December 16, 2014 at 3:33 am

      True, there is the risk of that too. I'm not sure how that can be avoided either.

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