A week on the web: Stop Kony
Charity Invisible Children shone a spotlight on the alleged atrocities carried out by Ugandan guerilla group leader Joseph Kony this week. The charity posted an extraordinary film on Vimeo – but soon found itself under as much scrutiny as Kony. Here’s what the web made of it all
- Joseph Kony is the leader of Ugandan guerilla group the Lords Resistance Army. He has been accused of inflicting appalling atrocities on children in Uganda – up to 60,000 are said to have been abducted by his army.
Until this week, he wallowed in relative obscurity. But then a charity made this video…
- The film was approaching 27m views at the time of writing, which surely makes it the most successful viral campaign ever launched online. It’s an extraordinary number for such a long documentary on such a harrowing subject.
The campaign to highlight Kony’s activities quickly spread to Twitter.
- And you know things have gone mainstream when a Kardashian pitches in.
- He’s certainly famous now – although we’re pretty sure the police already knew what Kony looked like, much to the chagrin of this man:
- The organisation that made the film, Invisible Children, quickly came under fire. It’s hard to challenge a charity that seems to be trying to do some good in the world, but people on Twitter smelt a rat.
- And plenty of people have done their research. These posts (and many more like them) were linked to repeatedly on Twitter:
“It would be great to get rid of Kony. He and his forces have left a path of abductions and mass murder in their wake for over 20 years. But let's get two things straight: 1) Joseph Kony is not in Uganda and hasn't been for 6 years; 2) the LRA now numbers at most in the hundreds, and while it is still causing immense suffering, it is unclear how millions of well-meaning but misinformed people are going to help deal with the more complicated reality.” (Source: foreignpolicy.com)
“In the end, ‘Kony 2012′ falls prey to the obfuscating, simplified and wildly erroneous narrative of a legitimate, terror-fighting, innocent partner of the West (the Government of Uganda) seeking to eliminate a band of lunatic, child-thieving, machine-gun wielding mystics (the LRA). The main beneficiary of this narrative is, once again, the Ugandan Government of Yoweri Museveni, whose legitimacy is bolstered and – if the ‘Kony 2012′ campaign is ‘successful’ – will receive more military funding and support from the US.” (Source: justiceinconflict.org)
There’s even a Tumblr blog devoted to criticism of the charity.
- One popular theory doing the rounds is that the US government has a hidden agenda.
- Really? This article puts another spin on that. The final paragraph quotes Frederick Golooba-Mutebi, a political scientist and a senior research fellow at the Institute of Social Research, Makerere University: “Why would Kony prevent the Americans from accessing Uganda’s oil if he is hiding in Central African Republic? That’s a misplaced assumption because for the Americans to have access to Uganda’s oil, American oil companies must be here, they must be involved in the exploration. There is not a single American company here.”
The speed with which the debate has progressed in the social media world was baffling for many, including our own Charlie Brooker.
- Of course there is Charlie, of course there is.
- As someone else put it in slightly more erudite terms:
Did you find this story interesting? Be the first to like or comment.