The Kony 2012 Campaign – Stop at nothing

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In this day and age, internet users are no strangers to viral videos, whether it be two-minute clips of “White Girls Say…” or cats playing the piano.  However, one of the most recent viral videos that have been plaguing social media sites since last Monday is a bit different.  San Diego-based charity, Invisible Children and filmmaker Jason Russell have created a viral video that is neither silly nor fun to watch over and over again, but instead dense with emotional struggle.  Social media sites have allowed the video to be posted and reposted the way so many other viral videos have been, but this exposure is of something that actually has depth –Invisible Children’s Kony 2012 Campaign video.

The campaign was started by the same American filmmakers who produced the 50-minute work called “Invisible Children” back in 2005 about the social unrest in Uganda.  The KONY 2012 campaign targets one of the rebel groups, Lord’s Resistance Army and its leader Joseph Kony, a bush fighter wanted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity.  The goal is to make Joseph Kony famous not to celebrate him, but to shed light on his crimes so that he may receive justice.  The most recently released video, which runs for 29 minutes, interviews a number of young African kids who share horrifying accounts of their experiences in being abducted and turned into sex slaves or child soldiers.  The video went viral in the United States, Europe, Canada and Australia in less than 24 hours.   

Of course, there has been much speculation on how Kony 2012 will do more harm than good in Central Africa (read here) but the fact that these discussions are being generated is a noteworthy feat for communication technologies. No matter how committed, no team of Greenpeace volunteers will ever rally the 50 million hits this 30-minute video has already received in less than a week.  The internet is changing the way information is being collected, produced, and exchanged.

On Wednesday, March 07, Uganda, Invisible Children and (hash) stopkony were among the top 10 trending terms on Twitter among both the worldwide and U.S. audience, ranking higher than either the new iPad or Peyton Manning. Twitter’s top trends more commonly include celebrities than fugitive militants.

Ben Keesey, Invisible Children’s 28-year-old chief executive officer, said the viral success shows their message resonates and that viewers feel empowered to force change. It was released on the website,

“The core message is just to show that there are few times where problems are black and white. There’s lots of complicated stuff in the world, but Joseph Kony and what he’s doing is black and white,” Keesey said Wednesday.

Of course, the message is the same that it’s always been-that anyone can make a difference, and every little bit counts.  It is refreshing to see social media be used so effectively for a cause that can influence so many lives.

Images by lighternorth and  chris shultz via Flickr.

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