Kony 2012 – A new 2012 campaign is spreading across the Internet and has one goal in mind: Make Joseph Kony, the Ugandan leader of the violent Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) “famous” so he can be brought to justice.
The campaign may be working. #StopKony has been trending worldwide on Twitter since Tuesday, and as of this writing, the video “Kony2012” has almost two million views on YouTube.
The viral film was created by Invisible Children, a nonprofit group that raises awareness about the use of child soldiers and other human rights abuses by Kony and the LRA. Kony is undeniably brutal, and the World Bank estimates that under his leadership the LRA has abducted and forced around 66,000 children to fight with them during the past two decades. In October, President Obama committed 100 U.S. troops to help the Ugandan army remove Kony.
But with the Kony 2012 campaign refocusing the attention on the LRA, some activists have raised concerns about the methods Invisible Children has used to raise awareness.
A request for comment from Invisible Children was not immediately returned.
“Visible Children,” a blog devoted to questioning the efforts of Invisible Children, wrote Wednesday that while Kony is an “evil man,” the KONY 2012 campaign’s social media tactics weren’t helping.
“These problems are highly complex, not one-dimensional and, frankly, aren’t of the nature that can be solved by postering, film-making and changing your Facebook profile picture, as hard as that is to swallow,” the blog wrote.
In November, a Foreign Affairs article more pointedly challenged the tactics used by Invisible Children and other nonprofits working in the region. “Such organizations have manipulated facts for strategic purposes, exaggerating the scale of LRA abductions and murders and emphasizing the LRA’s use of innocent children as soldiers, and portraying Kony — a brutal man, to be sure — as uniquely awful, a Kurtz-like embodiment of evil,” the magazine wrote.
One of Invisible Children’s partner organizations, Resolve, responded to the accusation at the time in a blog post, calling it a “serious charge … published with no accompanying substantiation.”
Charity Navigator, a charity evaluator, gives Invisible Children three out of four stars overall, four stars financially, and two stars for accountability and transparency.