KONY 2012: Propaganda and Social Networking

It’s probably safe to assume that if you’ve found this article, you’re internet-savvy enough to have already been exposed to the Kony 2012 campaign. With well over 2 million views on YouTube and 5.2 million views on Vimeo, as well as countless shares around Twitter and Facebook, the campaign has certainly proven true its own claim about the power of social media in changing the world. And why shouldn’t it be successful? Millions of people around the world coming together to stop the crimes of an evil man and make the world a better place – that sounds pretty ideal. And call me cynical, but I think we can assume that to believe things are that simple is staggeringly naïve.

This morning, I came across this and this Visible Children is a self-professed critique of Kony 2012 written by Grant Oyston, a student at Acadia University, Canada, whilst You Don’t Have My Vote is a fantastic article which exposes some major flaws with the campaign. They’re worth a read, certainly, and the issues they bring up are startling. It seems that there are a variety of problems with the campaign that transform it entirely from the shining beacon of light and progress in Uganda that it presents itself as, into an altogether more worrying and (dare I say it?) horrifying affair. From the seemingly harmless (such as the use of donations on ‘staff salaries, travel and transport’) to the more disturbing (such as the group’s support of the highly questionable Ugandan military, the revival of the ‘White Saviour’ and a radical desire for military intervention into the country), these writers really rather effectively pick apart the flaws in the Invisible Children group. However, I’ll leave it to you to make your mind up about the group’s ethics and message. What I found far more worrying, upon waking up this morning to a world gripped with Kony-fever, is the sheer power of propaganda on display.

Take a look at our featured image for this article – those men are the group’s leaders posing with weapons and members of the Sudan Liberation Army. There is no doubt that Invisible Children are radical to at least some extent. As I’ve expanded on above, it is also somewhat clear that whilst the group’s overall aim is honourable, their methods are questionable. But what they’ve done, with a half hour video, some posters and some Facebook/Twitter accounts, is create a façade that the entire world has blindly bought into. As I write, ‘#stopkony’, ‘Uganda’ and ‘Invisible Children’ are all worldwide trending topics on Twitter. The Invisible Children Facebook page’s wall is glittering with support and praise. Millions of people around the world are throwing their money at this organisation on the basis of one video. A single, half an hour video, put out by Invisible Children, telling people to donate to Invisible Children and spread the message about Invisible Children. And people are following, without question. How is this not utterly horrifying? No doubt, what we’re witnessing is a masterpiece of propaganda and the effects that bias can have on the general public. And why shouldn’t people buy into the video? It has everything you can relate to – the naïve child, the terrible villain, and the great hero. It’s so meticulously constructed to make us support the ‘good guys’, and play down any questions or worries we have with what the ‘heroes’ are doing.

So what can we do about this? Am I saying that we should all stop donating and go back to our lives? No. I’m saying that we should be using social media to its full extent. Networking has allowed this video to take the world by storm. It’s making people’s minds up for them. What we need to do is spread the truth – get these Tumblr pages spread as much as the Kony 2012 video, and level out the bias – tear down the saintly image that Invisible Children has created for itself, and show the world the truth. This campaign is, depending on your viewpoint, either a noble attempt to gain support and stop a major war criminal through justified and necessary means, or an ultimately pointless publicity campaign by a radical group trying to extract vengeance on one tiny part of a major problem. Only when people have both sides of the story, though, and recognise this conflict as being made up of by shades of grey and not good versus evil, will people be able to make an informed decision about whether they want to support this group. At the moment, though, for a world that is being increasingly driven by the exchange of information, most people seem to be remarkably ill-informed.

By Chris Heasman
on 7th Mar 2012
in Life

15 responses to “KONY 2012: Propaganda and Social Networking”

  1. Amy dean says:

    What is kony?? Please help I’m soooo confused!

  2. Mridula says:

    I felt very uneasy while watching the video and this website has just confirmed my doubts..The video is too much like a movie..bad guys hurting kids..the saviour USA swoops in to save the day..

  3. James says:

    I’m glad I read this. I’ve been involved with the IC group for about 3 years now and, honestly, just kinda went with it on this most recent campaign. However, after I have it some thought I realized that I do care and that I’m going to do what I can to help this situation. If they choose to take the money I donate and not use it to help anyone then they can deal with that guilt. I just know that this organization is something I care about and I want to do everything I can to see it succeed.

  4. simone bishop says:

    I am sorry, but as much I do agree with artical surrounding the fact
    That we need to know both sides of the story, but what are you looking for.
    This man who has an army of young children who are probably killing, all because he is agaisnt the government, not the childrens problem. I bought into it, the video was composed after years of campaigning and networking to make us all aware. We never had to have an impact in what was happening with other leaders who were torturing people of
    Their countries because the government knew! They were already doing
    Something about it. None of us knew about this man! That is the point of the whole thing! To tell us about him and then what people have been doing about it.
    Its not about whether its Real or fake or what the other side of the story is or how quickly wwe gave in. Thousands of teens made a difference! The point of the campaigne is to make him famous! And that’s what they have done and are doing, you are writing about him now! That’s what we want !

  5. Will Tomlinson says:

    I agree with Simone, I am always interested to see as many perspectives as possible, otherwise how else can you see the big picture.

    I think the big picture isn’t Kony, but the shift of power from the government to the people. Facebook, youtube, twitter, you name it. It enables people to be heard in a way that can make a difference like never before, or that has never been taken advantage of before. I think it’s an exciting time, and if this ‘experiment’ that is KONY 2012 works, it will be pretty groundbreaking and set the benchmark for how we can shape the world.

    Maybe the next ‘experiment’ could be TAX CUT 2013…

  6. Peter Self says:

    Wake up…the entire point is to capture Kody isn’t it. How do you think they are going to do that without using the military. All link hands and dance round in a big circle making daisy chains.

    It clearly states in the video that the entire point is to keep American military advisors in Uganda to support them with technology and training in order for the Ugandan Military (and that of Chad, South Sudan, the Congo and DRC Congo to add to it) to capture the world’s No1. war criminal.

    What the video doesn’t state is the US are actually in combat in Uganda, 100 Spec Ops soldiers are hunting him.

    Pacifism is a great thing – until it lets men like Kody, Saddam, Hitler etc rise to power because no one has the balls to take them on.

    Edmund Burke “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”

  7. Marina says:

    Have read a lot of criticism about Invisible Children and I agree with some of it but I think that the message should still be spread. I had no idea about what has been happening in Uganda and I do not consider myself an ignorant person. i don’t agree with necessarily donating money but then if they had not had the funding for the video then I may still not know about now. It’s a difficult issue that Im not sure that there is a simple answer.

  8. ally says:

    No matter what anyone says about the organization, they are having much success with their goal: to make Kony famous. In the beginning of the video, he said that this is an experiment to see how social media can affect the world. With millions of viewers watching the video in 1 day they are totally making their point. They are getting people talking!

  9. Emily says:

    I must admit, I was extremely taken in by the video but I followed the principle of ‘it was the way it’s been done’ rather than what it actually is… but yes, this a well written article. Thanks

  10. Kony 2012 fake says:

    Now that Justin Bieber and other celebrities have fallen for this I have lost all respect for these people. It illuminates they have NO discernment and are weak minded. They are just as compromised as the blind sheep following this obvious scam. It doesn’t surprise me that the select celebrites falling for this have been long compromised. Kony 2012 is a lie, scam. People who fall for the lie…Are you that blind and naive that you get swept into every movement without even fact checking or doing research? SCARY bro, scary. This is pure BS. This is so staged it isn’t even funny. It shows how easy it is to fool 16-29 year olds and a bunch of compromised idiots in Hollywood. This reminds us of the osama bin laden bs where college kids were recruited to show up on white house lawn chanting, 3 minutes before Obama even made the announcement. Wake up young people you are being led into deception. Mass shared psychosis. THINK. THINK. THINK. DOn’t get caught in the web of deceit. This is a diversionary tactic. Think hard. There are millions of AMERICAN kids suffering right now in the streets and in homes. Being abused, tortured and neglected and yet, SUDDENLY, there is a viral video alerting us to give aid to a foreign country to help their alleged tortured kids, as if this is an acute situation. This is such a joke. To see young people used and to further a sick and covert political agenda is beyond insanity, but God is watching every move these freaks behind this make and there’s nothing they can hide from God. He knows the truth. Kony 2012 is a LIE> “The production targets an age group between thirteen and twenty-one, and uses a level of academic vocabulary appropriate for a young adult audience with a limited attention span,” says website Prison Planet.com. “KONY 2012 is produced like any other sleek marketing campaign – instead of stimulating elements of self-satisfaction like advertisers would do to promote a product, US military intervention..” How IRONIC that Hollywood stars would support this, when it is fueling public support for another US invasion of a foreign country, when we can’t even TAKE CARE of our OWN CITIZENS.

    • Cares only about children. And there future. says:

      Kony 2012 fake. You sure are right. I care about all children but one thing I know is the MATRIX is in full effect people are plugged in 4real.the products us USA citizens buy have a direct connection 2 the children Being killed and the unrest in Africa. The whole world rapes Africa and I guess it will now be over once kony is stopped smh..

  11. Watermelon says:

    Y’know what I think? This is another “15 minute fame” thing.
    One video, and all of a sudden everyone thinks they’re real heroes. We got druggies and hookers on the streets, but does anyone care? No.
    This world is an entire lie, carefully wrapped in precautious advertising and vague descriptions of so-called “help”. I think it’s sick, making young children believe in such… Crap.

  12. mawejje andrew says:

    me i like this video. but the way the ugandan government reacted on this video im in line with it. that its just shwing the opposite of whats happening. kony is nolonger in uganda. and to put that aside i think we should think of capturing the one funding kony. its like treating a disease you start from the cause to cure it

Leave a Reply