Kony 2012: Can Social Media Help Topple a Tyrant?

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March 7, 2012; NPR

A video created by the nonprofit group Invisible Children is receiving a lot of attention across a variety of social media—and traditional media—outlets. The half-hour video tells the story of Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony, whose army “has specialized in kidnapping children and forcing them to fight,” according to NPR.

The video’s idealistic narrator says, “When my friends and I came home from Uganda, we thought that if the [U.S.] government knew [about Kony], they would do something to stop him. But everyone we talked to in Washington said there is no way the United States will ever get involved in a conflict where our national security or financial interests aren’t at stake.”

But it seems the group’s efforts eventually paid off. Last year, President Obama announced that he was deploying 100 U.S. troops to the region to work with local military entities that are attempting to find Kony and his soldiers.

However, Kony has since changed his tactics to avoid capture, so the video calls for a more intensive effort to bring him to justice, which has ignited a firestorm of comments on Twitter, Facebook and other social media. You can watch the video here:

Invisible Children has drawn some criticism for lacking accountability and spending more on staff compensation and transportation costs than on “direct services.” But our bet is that all of that will be forgotten if the group is successful in motivating the world to do something about the alleged atrocities of Joseph Kony. In order to do so, the nonprofit aims to “make Kony famous,” and given the response we’ve seen so far, it looks like they’re off to a good start. –Mike Keefe-Feldman