If you have logged on to Facebook within the last few days, you might have noticed people posting about Joseph Kony, Invisible Children, or filmmaker Jason Russell. Any of these names ringing a bell? Invisible Children, Inc. is a non-profit started by three friends, Jason Russell, Bobby Bailey, and Laren Poole, back in 2006 with the purpose of shedding light on the LRA and the conflict in Central Africa. Kony 2012 is their latest documentary, and here’s where the social media comes in. Instead of screening the film to friends and family (as the did with the previous film), they decided to launch it on youtube.com on March 5, 2012. The video went viral overnight, and currently has over 56 million views. Facebook statuses changed from celebrity nuances to “Kony the worst”, “Stop Kony”, Kony2012″, and included links to the video.
The video states that there are more people on Facebook now that there were living on the planet 200 years ago. That’s a large market, and a perfect forum to reach out to one of the tougher demographics, 18-34 year olds. But it doesn’t stop there, Kony2012 has also gone viral on twitter. WSJ reported that there were more than 950,000 tweets mentioning Kony on Thursday, according to social-media analytics firm PeopleBrowsr, including tweets by celebrities such as Rihanna, Alec Baldwin, Sean Combs, Ryan Seacrest, Bill Gates and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D., Vt.).
Of course, all this attention is bound to face some criticism. Critics have questioned the groups financials, and even the founders’ character, after coming across a photograph of the three men holding guns with members of Sudan People’s Liberation Army. Scott Gilmore, chief executive of Peace Dividend Trust, a nonprofit that focuses on streamlining inefficiencies in humanitarian operations, said “While this is a very impressive example of viral marketing, it’s raising awareness for a cause that doesn’t need awareness,” according to WSJ. Some say the video over simplifies the problem, focusing on one person and Uganda where the LRA are no longer located. Others say that the attention may cause the opposite result, making Kony harder to find.
Huffington Post reported, “Invisible Children posted rebuttals to the criticism on its website, saying that it has spent about 80 percent of its funds on programs that further its mission, about 16 percent on administration and management, and about 3 percent on fundraising. The group said its accountability and transparency score is currently low because it has four independent voting members on its board of directors and not five, but that it is seeking to add a fifth. The group said the three workers in the photo thought it would be a good “joke” photo for family and friends.”
Russell told GMA this morning, ”We need to make sure everyone is aware who Kony is. By making him famous, we will bring his crimes to the light and bring the children who’ve been abducted back home. That’s the goal.” It seems that they are definitely getting the word out, let’s hope the message continues to spread, and that it will help bring the International Criminal Court’s #1 most wanted person to justice.
For more information visit: http://www.invisiblechildren.com