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KONY 2012: Social Media Wave

Invisible Children's #stopKony video is creating debate about more than just human rights. 

The "Kony 2012" campaign launched by Invisible Children is creating internet buzz, and also stirring up debate about the use of social media in human rights activism.

(Joseph Kony, courtesy of Invisible Children)
(Joseph Kony, courtesy of Invisible Children)

Invisible Children recently released a viral 30-minute video called "Kony 2012" to rev up awareness about their campaign to end Ugandan guerilla leader Joseph Kony's human rights violations, which include sexual abuse, violence, kidnappings, and use of child soliders. The video already has 30,909478 views. Supporters can track data and information about the atrocities of Kony's "Lord's Resistance Army", and make a pledge on Invisible Children's website.

According to the Invisible Children, their campaign "uses film, creativity, and social action to end the use of child soldiers in Joseph Kony's rebel war, and restore LRA-affected communities in Central Africa to Peace and Prosperity."

Invisible Children has issued a statement in response to criticisms against their campaign. Their statement reiterated the mission and goals of Invisible Children:

  • Make the world aware of the LRA. This includes making documentary films, and touring them around the world so that they are seen for free by millions of people.
  • Channel energy from viewers of IC films into large-scale advocacy campaigns to stop the LRA and protect civilians.
  • Operate programs on the ground in LRA-affected areas that provide protection, rehabilitation, and development assistance.

Invisible Children's website also has a link to its financials for the past five years on its website, and the organization says it spends "roughly one third of our money on each of these three goals."

Celebrities like Justin Bieber, Kim Kardashian, and Oprah have been tweeting about the #stopKony campaign.

Justin Bieber tweeted, "#Kony2012 is number 1 trending topic on Twitter worldwide!! See why...It might change ur life."

Oprah tweeted that she is aware of the campaign, and has "supported with $'s and voice and will not stop. #Kony2012."

ATVN asked Twitter followers how they felt about the #stopKONY campaign - @lindseyberg, a USC student tweeted, "@atvn I think KONY's use of social media is extremely effective! It has gone viral and spread the word about an important cause. #stopkony."

But some USC students feel that the campaign isn't truly effective, but rather just an instance of "band wagon" activism. A student posted a USC Meme poking fun at the campaign, that reads "One does not simply...destabilize a Ugandan warlord by liking a status." The meme has 433 likes already.

Matt Barkley, USC quarterback, tweeted, "On another note, people need to stop hating on @Invisible! They are doing something you're not...Proverbs 31:8-9. #Kony2012 #stopkony

The Invisible Children social media campaign directly targets college students who heavily utilize social media.

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