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

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  1. 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…

  2. 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.

  3. And you know things have gone mainstream when a Kardashian pitches in.
  4. 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:
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. One popular theory doing the rounds is that the US government has a hidden agenda.
  8. 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.

  9. Of course there is Charlie, of course there is.
  10. KONY 2012 - Hitler's Reaction!
  11. As someone else put it in slightly more erudite terms:
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