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Posted two days ago, the Kony 2012 video has garnered over 15 million views, according to the Washington Post. The speed in which it went viral can only be attributed to the power of social media, and to the number of people simultaneously connected on the World Wide Web. The video itself makes clear its intent to exploit the virtual platform, and make it its stage.
The 30-minute documentary was produced by Invisible Children, a nonprofit charity that wants Joseph Kony to face trial for his war crimes in the International Criminal Court. Kony, the head of the Lord’s Resistance Army–better known as the LRA–has been evading capture for some time. A warrant for his arrest has been out since 2005. At the height of its power, the group kidnapped, horribly mutilated and killed thousands of people.
Many of these atrocities were perpetrated by children who were kidnapped themselves. Tens of thousands of people have been estimated to have fallen victim to these crimes. The exact numbers will never be known.
What is known, is that the campaign was a hit. It is impossible to predict the factors that went behind the video’s viral success. Whatever they are, the Kony 2012 video is undeniably a successful combination of these. One of its greatest aims was fulfilled: the world, or an important platform for it, knows exactly who Joseph Kony is. Millions saw the video, and within hours of its being posted.
But a backlash has occurred regarding the du jour status of the campaign. As quickly as it burst into the scene, some are growing tired of the topic. Calling those who repost the video “internet activists,” the cynics are skeptical of the staying power of what seems to be a superficial ‘trend’ cause.
The organization itself has come under fire. The Tumblr blog of a Canadian student, by the name of Visible Children, begs to question the transparency and accountability of Invisible Children. According to the blog, only 32% of what the organization spent went towards direct services. The rest went towards “staff salaries, travel and transport, and film production.”
This is an abysmal figure that the organization disputes, stating that the reason it only has two stars for accountability, is because the charity has only four independent board members, as opposed to five. Furthermore, according to KSDK.com, Invisible Children has refused to be reviewed by the Better Business Bureau, a decidedly red flag.
The charity maintains they are waiting until they expand their board.