Kony 2012 is a film and campaign that was launched last week by the Invisible Children organization to bring awareness to Ugandan rebel leader Joseph Kony, the head of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). Notorious for kidnapping children to be soldiers and sex slaves in their militia, the LRA is a small but powerful force that has been terrorizing Northern Uganda since 1987. Founded in 2005, Invisible Children, Inc. is a nonprofit organization that creates and runs programs to provide access to education and improve the livelihood of those affected by the LRA. Among their objectives is to bring awareness to the atrocities of the LRA and to have Kony captured.
The Kony 2012 film was uploaded to YouTube on March 5th, 2012. Three days later, this film has nearly 40 million views and 42% reach (Social Mention). The director, Jason Russell, openly asks viewers to share the video through social media. By asking for this spotlight, the film has also sparked lots of criticism. Some argue that the organization mismanages funds and others warning that taking Kony down would mean fighting his army—children.
This brilliant social media campaign is well integrated with the organization’s functions. The video enables viewers to join their cause by encouraging interested parties to visit their website for bracelets or Action Kits ($30), filled with posters, bumper stickers, bracelets etc.—think Obama 2008. The campaign culminates to an event call Blanket the Night, when participants will hit the streets to put up posters so that when the rest of the country awakes, Kony 2012 posters will be everywhere.
There is no doubt that this is a worthy cause. However, I urge all viewers to not get swept up in the social media blitz. Do some research, so that whatever the decision may be, it comes from an informed place.