Stories that ruled social media in 2017

Star Online Report

Published: 31st December, 2017

We have witnessed a wave of online activism in 2017, proliferating opinions to a vast audience who comprise to almost one-third of the global population.

Let’s have a look at the stories that rocked the social media platforms in 2017.


Rohingya crisis

The most talked about topic in all forms of media this year from the national context, which also got significant attention globally, has been the persecution of Rohingya minorities in Myanmar and their subsequent exodus to Bangladesh for shelter.

An estimated 655,000 forcibly displaced Rohingyas have fled Myanmar and taken shelter in Bangladesh to escape persecution by the Myanmar military after a group called the Arakan Rohingya Salvation Army (ARSA) allegedly carried out attacks on police posts on August 25, killing 12 members of the security forces.

The crisis was discussed with emphasis at the United Nations General Assembly held later this year and was also major humanitarian concern among the global organisations. Nobel Peace laureate and Myanmar’s de facto leader Aung San Suu Kyi faced widespread criticism across the world for her long silence and failure to protect Myanmar's Rohingya minorities from what rights groups say is a systematic campaign of abuse by the country’s army.

However, an agreement to repatriate the displaced Rohingyas has been made between Bangladesh and Myanmar on November 23 this year, according to which Myanmar will provide the necessary forms to be filled by the prospective returnees. Myanmar plans to begin the repatriation of its nationals from Bangladesh on January 22, 2018 with a group of 450 Hindu refugees.


Juboraj, the lion

A video of Juboraj, a 17-year-old ailing lion in Comilla Zoo, went viral in on social media later in 2017, and many users accused the zoo keepers of starving him and being irresponsible.

Following the backlash, the zoo authorities later called in veterinarians who concluded that Juboraj's health had deteriorated beyond recovery.

Juboraj was suffering from old age complications and its plight broke hearts of animal lovers after the video and photos of the lion circulated in Facebook. It passed away on December 12, 2017 at the zoo.


SC’s 16th amendment verdict and CJ’s resignation

One of the most discussed topics in the political scenario of Bangladesh this year was the Supreme Court upholding a High Court verdict that declared illegal the 16th amendment to the constitution on July 3.

Through the verdict, the Jatiya Sangsad lost the power to remove SC judges for incapacity or misconduct as the government lost the legal battle to defend the controversial 16th constitutional amendment that restored this authority of parliament.

Following the SC verdict, Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha faced backlash from the lawmakers who demanded his removal from the post and criticised him for his comments in the SC verdict.

The country later saw SK Sinha going on a leave and subsequently resigned from his post after 11 charges including corruption was brought against him.

The government also filed a review petition on December 24, 2017 with the SC against its verdict on the 16th constitutional amendment.


Demise of a popular mayor

The nation was covered in a shroud of mourning after the popular mayor of Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC), Annisul Huq, passed away on November 30 this year.

Annisul Huq, also a noted media personality and a successful businessman, emerged as a visionary leader who wanted to bring positive change to the lives of the Dhaka dwellers and made several noteworthy contributions in his brief stint as the DNCC mayor.

However, he fell ill with a neurological ailment and was undergoing treatment in a London hospital since August this year, where he finally breathed his last.

People from all walks of lives mourned his untimely demise in social media and expressed frustration that a man of so much potential to make positive changes to this city had so little time to turn his dreams to reality.

Beside these, reports of teenagers committing suicide after playing Blue Whale game, controversies over the Bangla film “Doob- No Bed of Roses” directed by Mostofa Sarwar Farooqui, launch of the country’s first nano-satellite BRAC Onnesha, and Bangladesh Cricket Team’s successful stints in Tests against England, Sri Lanka and Australia were also much discussed among social media users in the country.



#MeToo campaign and Harvey Weinstein scandal

Over 500,000 web users across the world, including many celebrities, used the hashtag #MeToo in social media since October 2017 as they denounced sexual assault and harassment following allegations of sexual misconduct against film producer and executive Harvey Weinstein. Popularised by actress Alyssa Milano, the hashtag encouraged women to tweet it to publicly speak up about their experiences that demonstrate misogynistic behaviour.

As the investigation into the Weinstein scandal delves deeper, and many more such allegations against others have seen the light of the day, it has already turned into a wave of social movement on the web platform to speak up against conducts that violate the rights of women across the world, and call for stronger voice favouring gender equity.


US-NKorea nuclear tension and a ‘Tweeting Trump’

In 2017, we saw a sharp rise in the tension between the US and North Korea over a possible nuclear war as NKorea keeps testing their nuke warheads while US objects to it and tries to drive away its likely antagonist off the table.

However, NKorea leader Kim Jong-Un has so far proven to be a hard nut to crack as he did not get taunted by US President Donald Trump’s use of harsh rhetorics in his social media presence through his Twitter profile. As both of them addressed each other with terms like “mad man”, “lunatic”, and “psychopath”, the world has braced itself to see the outcomes of this political theatrics, and it seems unlikely to have a happy ending.

Other geo-political players, and organisations and activists across the world have already come up with voices against this nuclear tension and are likely to engage more into bringing a peaceful solution to the crisis through global engagement of people against it, after all this is not just a duel of two man’s political ego, rather a question of survival of millions of people.


FBI probe into Trump-Russia collusion

Political enthusiasts across the world kept a keen eye to the FBI investigation into allegations of Donald Trump- Russia collusion during the US Presidential elections, with suggestions that Russia had done its part to influence with victory in Trump’s favour.

This was one of those issues that kept the social media abuzz throughout the year since Trump took oath to make it to the White House early this year. Events such as Trump firing federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director James Comey and National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, and bringing in former FBI chief Robert Mueller as the head of the Special Counsel investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections, have garnered a lot of reactions, controversies, and backlashes in all forms of media, and social media was no exception.


Prince Harry-Meghan Markle engagement

The hype over the royal wedding has been on the rise in social media since Prince Harry and his partner actress Meghan Markle officially announced to be engaged on November 27, 2017

The royal wedding is planned to be held at the St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle, on May 19, 2018, and users in social media are looking forward to the most awaited wedding of the coming year.

Several factors added fuel to it such as the engagement ring given by Harry to the ‘Suits’ star Meghan which consists of three diamonds, who of which were taken from the jewellery collection of Princess Diana, which instantly drew discussions among web users on comparisons between the two royalties -- Diana and Meghan. Also, Meghan Markle’s mixed race was subject to much debate in the social media, alongside comparisons between her and Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton, who has been married to Prince William, Duke of Cambridge.


Virat Kohli-Anushka Sharma wedding

After months of many speculations, Indian cricket team captain Virat Kohli tied the knot with Bollywood actress and long time girlfriend Anushka Sharma on December 11 in Milan, Italy.

Rumours of the celebrity couple's wedding started swirling in social media when Kohli pulled out of India's limited-over matches against Sri Lanka and Sharma also ducked out of her busy acting schedule in December.

Fans have always been much hyped over the celebrity-couple’s love life in social media and were eagerly waiting to hear the grand news of their wedding ever since they started dating.

Both Anushka Sharma and Virat Kohli shared photos from their wedding ceremony in their Twitter profiles after the event, which immediately went viral among fans and well wishers across the world.

Also, popular HBO TV series Game of Thrones season 7 that aired this year, two mass shooting incidents in the US in Texas and Las Vegas, bomb blast at pop singer Ariana Grande’s concert in Manchester of UK, were among the other topics of discussion in the social media.