What exactly is KONY 2012?
If you’ve logged into Facebook recently, odds are you’ve seen the Kony 2012 video popping up all over your newsfeed. The 29-minute film created by international charity Invisible Children has been viewed over 32 million times since it was posted on YouTube this past Monday.
According to the organization’s website, the film was created to bring awareness to the war crimes committed in Uganda and across central Africa by Joseph Kony, the leader of the militant group the Lord’s Resistance Army. Estimates place the number of children that have been abducted and drafted as soldiers for the LRA above 30,000 and they have been responsible for the displacement of 2.1 million people over their 26-year history.
The ultimate goal of the campaign is to have the LRA disarmed and Kony arrested within the year by U.S. military advisers who are currently in the area.
While this cause seems noble and the video certainly tugs on the heartstrings of viewers, Invisible Children has come under fire for their social media based campaign tactics. The Guardian has reported that there are questions about the charity’s funding, its targeting of U.S. leaders instead of African leaders to instigate change, and accusations that it is failing to criticise the Ugandan government, with its poor human rights record.
In fact, a Tumblr was created bringing several of these issues to light. Invisible Children responded to the criticisms in a statement published yesterday. That same day the organization issued a letter to President Obama detailing the actions they would like the U.S. government to take against Kony.
There are still concerns being raised about the group’s overly-simplistic breakdown of the issues in central Africa and the idea that it may actually be glamorizing this brutal international figure. For now, there has been no official government response to the campaign, and the video’s view count continues to soar.
See the film in full below: