Beyond Viral: Kony 2012

If you were in tune with social media channels yesterday and this morning, you have likely heard of Kony 2012. If you’ve been under a rock, Kony 2012 is an operation and campaign to get Joseph Kony, the Ugandan guerrilla group leader and head of the Lord’s Resistance Army, captured before the end of the year. The operation is the initiative of Invisible Children and involves an online video, petition and merchandise to facilitate the spread of information about Kony and his war and humanity crimes. The ultimate goal is to garnish enough support from the American government for ambassadors to visit Uganda to assist the Ugandan military with the capture of Kony. 

Kony has been on the run for over 26 years and is wanted on 33 separate criminal charges, including 12 counts of crimes against humanity, murder, enslavement and rape. The US has named Kony as one of the world’s most wanted terrorists and is believed to have overseen the guerrilla group’s abduction of an estimated 66,000 children and forcing them to become child soldiers. 

In the spring of 2003 three young filmmakers, Jason Russell, Bobby Bailey and Laren Poole, traveled to Africa to document the genocide that was occurring in Darfur. Instead, they were made aware of the war against the government and the actions and repercussions of the Ugandan rebel group. The next year, they formed the non-profit organization Invisible Children with the aim to bring attention to Kony and the Lord’s Resistance Army. 

On Monday, Invisible Children uploaded a 30-minute video to YouTube called Kony 2012 detailing the Kony 2012 campaign, providing background information and how viewers could support their cause by spreading the video and information or by making donations. The video is directed and narrated by Jason Russell and features clips of his time spent in Africa. The viral video has exploded through the Internet in an effort to take down Joseph Kony and bring child soldiers home and raise awareness and mass attention. The idea is that if the world knows where he is, it will unite and stop them. 

Yesterday,  ‘KONY 2012’ and ‘Invisible Children’ were trending worldwide on Twitter (and likely will for a long time), with the 30-minute video an becoming an instant online hit retweeted thousands of times. The next step is to target 20 key influencers, including celebrities, athletes and billionaires, who have the ability to make significant impact and 12 political figures that can support the initiative. The idea is that these decision makers and cultural influencers will speak out against Kony and make his name and story known to the population who remains uninformed about him. Toward the end of the documentary, it is explained that the pinnacle of the campaign, Cover the Night, will take place on the evening of April 20th and will involve spreading various Kony 2012 media in major cities from sundown to sunrise to help spread further awareness.

Visitors to the site can pledge to support the intitiative online. They can purchase the kit online and purchase an assortment of t-shirts, bracelets and kits that include posters. Behold the power of social media…