Two days ago, Invisible Children released a video highlighting the abuse committed by Joseph Kony, the leader of the Lords’ Resistance Army (LRA) in central Africa, becoming one of the most viral video campaigns the world has ever seen.
Invisible Children, a movement dedicated to ending conflict in Uganda, created a call to action, aiming to raise awareness by making Joseph Kony famous. Because of Invisible Children’s work to raise awareness of his injustice over the past 10 years, Barack Obama signed the Lord’s Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act of 2009. These acts committed the United States to help bring down Kony and his rebel army. However, in order to continue the search and fight against Kony, Invisible Children must raise support for his arrest amongst people throughout the world.
The documentary, produced by filmmaker Jason Russel, has over 7 million views, is trending on Twitter, and is inviting thousands to join the movement on Facebook. When I watched the video, in a span of 30 minutes, 4,000 comments were made. The Invisible Children organization has strategically garnered the strength of social media to carry their campaign to the top of the news. Russel emphasizes the strength of social media by noting that 200 years ago, the population of the world was equal to the amount of people on Facebook today. This online platform connects the entire world in one community, and in Kony’s case, unites people for the common good of humankind.
Another tactic Invisible Children is using to gain support against Kony is by involving key celebrities that hold social influence. George Clooney appears in the documentary saying Kony deserves the same amount of spotlight in the media that celebrities have. A twitter campaign targeting celebrities and influential figures launched last night using the hashtag #STOPKONY.
The video does an amazing job of eliciting an emotional response from it’s viewers. It tells the story of Jacob, a Ugandan boy who describes the death of his brother and fears of being abducted by Kony’s Army. Russel also uses his toddler son to evoke emotion, by telling him about Kony and the harm he’s done to Jacob’s people. Scary visuals are shown of horrible mutilation done to victims, children hiding out in fear and the children captured by Kony who are forced to kill their families. The documentary leaves viewers feeling empowered and uplifted, because with their support, the fight against Kony can finally end.
The movement encourages supports to to buy action kit/bracelets, make a donation, and sign the pledge against Kony. Also, they are promoting “Cover the Night” in cities around the world on April 20 in a campaign to plaster cities with posters, stickers and banners supporting the arrest of Kony.
The viral phenomenon that Kony 2012 has sparked reveals the true power of social media. Without these platforms, there is no way the world could efficiently raise awareness to support this necessary cause. YouTube, Facebook and Twitter are helping shape human history, in greater ways than we could ever imagine.