The Invisible Children Movement: Stop Kony 2012
By: Olivia Bobes
The Invisible ChildrenMovement
Sample Infographic, linked to its full-sized image.
Infographic Description This infographic gives a brief overview of the major facts, events, and statistics of the Invisible Children Movement.
Summary of Findings
The Invisible Children Movement: Stop Kony 2012 was a nonviolent movement aimed at stopping Joseph Kony and his rebel group who have terrorized citizens of Uganda and Central Africa since 1986. Joseph Kony is the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and oversees the rebel group responsible for Africa’s longest running armed conflict. The LRA is a rebel group of abducted child soldiers, lacking any clear political motivation that takes advantage of local turmoil and carries out acts of extreme violence. Of those children abducted for the army, the boys are forced to become soldiers and the girls sex slaves.
The goals of this movement included stopping the rebel group, returning the children to their homes, creating programs to protect communities, and pursuing peace while working to move forward from the devastation caused by the LRA. Public exposure was key for this movement. The movement released a short documentary detailing the struggle with Kony and the LRA. This video quickly went viral and served as a call to action to participate in the movement. Stop Kony 2012 became a viral Internet campaign against Kony that gained wide spread exposure and a large amount of funding.
The movement was successful in creating Community Defection Committee’s, an LRA Crisis Tracker, Come Home Defection Messaging, Early Warning Radio Networking, and Come Home Broadcasts aimed at returning the children to their homes. The movement resulted in decreasing the amount of LRA combatants. 83 former soldiers returned home after being abducted into the group and some communities began to regain peace of mind. However, the ultimate goal of this movement was not achieved and the LRA remains active to this day.
Research Question: Was the Invisible Children Kony 2012 Movement effective, and what effect did modern day social media/ the Internet have on the outcome of this movement?
Summarized Answer: Yes and no, the movement’s short-term goals including gaining awareness, mass participation, and funding were achieved. However they were not successful in achieving their long-term goals of locating and stopping Kony and the existence of the LRA, as they remain active to this day.
Reflection of Movement
This movement was generally effective in achieving their short-term goals. Following the release of the viral video, the movement gained a strong social media presence along with widespread popularity, which functioned in spreading the platform and message of the movement to people all over America and the world. There was a massive millennial participation present. The U.S. did get involved when Obama sent troops to take out Kony & the rebel group. Also, they gained extensive funding from citizen donors and were successful with their grassroots activism efforts.
However, the movement’s long-term goals were ultimately not achieved. The trend of the Kony 2012 movement phased out, seemingly disappearing over night. The media stopped reporting on it and people stopped talking about it. The efforts were not strong enough to infiltrate and take out Kony and the LRA. The movement itself was controversial and many believed it to be a scam. Kony’s group remains active to this day and several of the main leaders of the Invisible Children Movement have stepped down and moved on from the movement all together.
The Role of Social Media The pervasiveness of the Internet and social media in the context of this movement is undisputed. In fact, the overwhelming social media presence and millennial participation catalyzed the campaign and is responsible for its grandiose success. The way nonviolent movements and social justice campaigns are carried out has changes due to so-called "hashtag activism" in online campaigns. A plethora of online support is only useful if there is a plan to harness that momentum for real world impact.
Why the Movement Failed In the case of Kony 2012, the spotlight was unsustainable and did not translate into action because of a lack of sufficient strategy following the virality of the campaign. If the movement had clear strategies in place for transitioning the explosive yet short-lived Internet attention into meaningful action the results may have differed. Without a set plan of action, other than continuing in the spread of awareness and monetary donations, the movement lacked direction and was not effective in achieving their long-term goals. In some ways, from the very beginning the movement was destined to fail. The central goal, to hunt down and bring to justice Joseph Kony and his irrepressible rebel group, itself is seemingly unattainable if not impossible. In this way the movement set itself up for failure, titling the campaign ‘Stop Kony 2012’ and focusing on such an uncompromising objective.
The Kony 2012 Video that started it all
Brown, Barbara. “React and Respond: The phenomenon of Kony 2012.” Boston University Outreach Council of the African Studies Association. http://www.bu.edu/africa/files/2012/04/Kony-React-Respond.pdf. Accessed 14 Nov. 2016.
Gregory, Samuel. “Kony 2012 Through a Prism of Video Advocacy Practices and Trends.” Oxford Journals: Journal of Human Rights Practice, vol. 4, no. 3, 2012,pp. 463-468, http://jhrp.oxfordjournals.org/content/4/3/463.full. Accessed 19 Nov. 2016.
Grossman, Samantha. “Kony 2012 Documentary Becomes Most Viral Video in History.”Time Magazine, 2016 Time Inc., 12 Mar. 2012,http://newsfeed.time.com/2012/03/12/kony-2012-documentary-becomes-most-viral-video-in-history/. Accessed 14 Nov. 2016.
Harding, Lucy. “Kony 2012 in review.” Oxford Journals: Journal of Human Rights Practice, vol. 4, no. 3, 2012, pp. 461462,http://jhrp.oxfordjournals.org/conte
Taylor, Adam. “Was #Kony2012 a failure?” The Washington Post, 16 Dec. 2014,https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2014/12/16/was-kony2012-a-failure/?utm_term=.f8edccea6400. Accessed 19 Nov. 2016.
Testa, Jessica. “Two Years After KONY 2012, Had Invisible Children Grown Up?”Buzzfeed News, 9 Mar. 2014, https://www.buzzfeed.com/jtes/two-years-after-kony-2012-has-invisible-children-grownup?utm_term=.nlZwq0JOy#.jcdNXBex7Accessed 19 Nov. 2016.