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Trending: A play-by-play of how the Kony 2012 video went viral

A 30-minute video declaring the intention of making Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony "famous" succeeded and then some by creating an astounding online cascade of interest. The video has received more than 50 million hits on YouTube since it was uploaded Monday. How did it happen? Think Justin Bieber.


  1. Here's a chart of how the Kony phenomenon spread across Twitter. Mentions of #Kony or #StopKony went from practically zero on March 6 to 9.45 million two days later. 
  2. It all began on Monday, March 5, with a tweet from Invisible Children, the group that made the video.
  3. One day after the video was uploaded to YouTube, it received a boost from an obscure former talk show host with 9.7 million followers on Twitter.
  4. Invisible Children tied an appeal for greater Twitter traffic to its fundraising campaign. The campaign raised $5 million in the first 48 hours, according to Jason Russell, the group's co-founder. 
  5. By now a backlash was developing against the video, which critics said oversimplified the situation in northern Uganda and indulged the worst tendencies of the world's comfortable citizens to see themselves as saviors to the poor.
  6. #StopKony became more than just a celebrity cause. Prominent voices in academia the world of humanitarian aid joined the debate.
  7. And then came the tweet heard by 18.3 million faithful followers of one of the world's biggest stars:
  8. So where does the great Kony viral trend of 2012 stand? Online activism seems to be producing real-world action.