Kony 2012 is an online video created by a group of activists aiming to have a Ugandan war criminal Joseph Kony arrested. Kony is the leader of a guerrilla organisation called the Lord’s Resistance Army which is responsible for crimes including rape, murder, kidnapping and the forced recruitment of child soldiers.
The video was a phenomenal viral success. In less than a week, it was viewed more than twenty-five million times, throwing the international spotlight on Joseph Kony and demonstrating the power of online activism.
“Right now there are more people on Facebook then there were on the planet two hundred years ago,” says Jason Russell at the beginning of the video. “Humanity’s greatest desire is to belong and connect. We hear each other. We share what we love. And it reminds us what we have in common. And this connection is changing the way the world works. Governments are trying to keep up and older generations are concerned.”
‘Slacktivism’ is any form of online activism – signing a petition, ‘liking’ a cause on Facebook or posting a link to a charity – that makes someone feel good without actually achieving anything. This type of activism is less effective than writing a letter to your local politician or donating money to a cause. Although many people shared the Kony 2012 video, far fewer became actively involved in the campaign. Despite this, the video did raise global awareness about an important issue.
“As a piece of digital polemic and digital activism, it is quite simply brilliant,” film critic Peter Bradshaw wrote in The Guardian. “It’s a slick, high-gloss piece of work, distributed on the Vimeo site, the upscale version of YouTube for serious film-makers. And its sensational, exponential popularity growth on the web is already achieving one of its stated objectives: to make Kony famous, to publicise this psychopathic warlord’s grotesque crimes – kidnapping thousands of children and turning them into mercenaries, butchers and rapists.”
Watch the video Kony 2012 and listen to the episode of Triple J’s Hack that explores this issue.
1. Briefly describe Kony 2012, explaining how it was spread using social media.
2. Do you think Kony 2012 was an effective campaign? Will it make a difference?
3. Read the article ‘Why slacktivism is overrated‘. Give five reasons why slacktivism might not be that bad.