Underneath the criticism and the meltdowns, Kony 2012 is another example of how powerful and possibly influential the internet has become.
This March, Invisible Children co-founder Jason Russell released a 30-minute documentary about war criminal Joseph Kony, leader of northern Uganda’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). The non-profit’s goal in the “Stop Kony” movement was to educate people about his injustice crimes, and hope that with enough outcries, the government would be persuaded into joining their movement and bring Kony to justice.
Using viral marketing tools such as “share” and “like” buttons the video spread through social media and news platforms like rapid fire. Even you’re typical technology-challenged grandma saw it on YouTube. With over 70 million views just three days after it was released, the video was trending on twitter and every major media outlet and blog were talking about it.
This campaign was something that had hit uncharted territories. Using facts, and emotions, it reached its goals of spreading awareness and touching millions of people to a new cause. Yet, because of the topic of the documentary, this campaign’s ultimate goal didn’t really translate well. Critics quickly came out to prove what facts in the video were wrong; a big one being that Kony hadn’t even been in Uganda for six years. Many felt that Russell oversimplified a complex issue and failed to do any research.
If you’re well versed in your Uganda or any other African history, you know that these problems won’t be solved by catching one man. Uganda itself is rather more concerned about other issues themselves. There is a whole complicated history that Russell seemed to just overlook, not only of African history, but also of the efforts America has made previously, as well as other international forces. Having a simple call to action “Stop Kony” is a great marketing way to have masses of people feel involved however when does a call of action this huge become more of an issue than helpful?
All of the criticism has led people to question the organization and also to Russell having a public psychological breakdown where he was running the streets of San Diego naked.
No matter how you look at it though, Kony 2012 has broken viral marketing records and changed the way an organization tries to reach their masses. Yet, without doing in depth research, your organization can be ripped to shreds and actually take away from the organizations ultimate goal.