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Posted by on Mar 8, 2012 in Science & Technology | 7 comments

Time To Stop The #StopKony Bandwagon

It was the buzz in my class tonight: “Have you seen the #StopKony campaign? It came out of nowhere!”

I, unfortunately, knew only that it was trending on Twitter. I’d not had time to poke around. And then danah boyd (@zephoria) came to my rescue:

A critique of the Kony 2012 film & the Invisible Children #stopkony campaign: (oversimplified msgs can do damage)

The tweet alludes to an effective, oversimplified and apparently misleading film: 81,000+ retweets of a 30 minute YouTube video.

A 30-minute video that doesn’t tell us that Joseph Kony left Uganda six years ago.

A 30-minute video that doesn’t tell us that the Lord’s Risistance Army (LRA) now numbers in the hundreds; there is no army of 30,000 mindless children.

A 30-minute video that doesn’t tell us that the real health issue in Uganda is something called “Nodding Disease” which has claimed more than 4,000 children.

It’s a brand awareness and money-making campaign by NGO Invisible Children (which funnels a large part of its revenue – see IRS 990 — to Invisible Children Limited in Africa).

One person can make a difference. Read more at Foreign Policy Joseph Kony is not in Uganda (and other complicated things.

As I say in any post like this one, if it sounds too good or too bad to be true, the odds are it isn’t! Do diligence – check before you retweet, forward or share!

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  • The_Ohioan

    Sounds like some misdirection is going on. Good catch, Kathy.

  • JeffP

    Kathy, thanks for the info.

    Information about Kony started landing on my facebook feeds all day long. YouTube videos, people changing their profile pictures, lots of criticisms of criticizers, promises to “wear my bracelet.”

    Social media–can be a blessing, can be a way to really mislead the masses.

  • Thanks, folks — yes, “fires” can be positive and they can be negative. In either case, think before you share/forward/retweet!

    Oh! And I should have made this clear – it did NOT come out of nowhere! It was an orchestrated campaign by veterans.

  • adelinesdad

    To the extent that the video is misleading, that’s a problem and it should be corrected. But as for the cause itself, I’m not really understanding the criticism. No one disputes that Kony is still causing misery and stopping him would be a good thing. Raising awareness of this is therefore also a good thing. Are there more worthy causes? Maybe, but that can be said for any charity. I think the money donated to PETA could be put to better use, but that’s not my call. People need to use discretion with their charitable dollars to make sure they are getting the most for their money, but that’s a personal decision and it’s not up to me to judge as long as the cause is valid.

    In short, StopKony needs to be more honest about the scale of the problem but likewise critics need to be careful not to make people think the cause is not legit.

  • roro80

    Just watched the film for the first time, before reading this. I got that he was no longer in Uganda. There was a little map that showed the LRA leaving, and he said something like “blah blahKony moving into neighboring areas, changing tactics, blah blah.”. What’s the problem here?

  • roro80

    And who thought that 30,000 kids over the course of 26 years means 30,000 at any given time? Does the fact that he only currently has a few hundred kids carrying guns and forcing their sisters into sexual slavery mean that suddenly he deserves to continue? I feel like maybe you misunderstood some key facts from the film and are now using that misunderstanding like it was purposeful deception on the parts of the movie makers.

  • roro80

    And seriously, I’m sure nodding disease is awful, but fixing that probably requires more than taking out one really bad dude. If you’d like to start a campaign against nodding disease, I’d love to donate to that too.

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