March 14th, 2012 By Jack Morton
Last week I posted about the Kony 2012 campaign promoted by the non-profit group Invisible Children. Since then, the video is being called “the most viral video of all time” by Mashable and has reached 100 million plus views. In the wake of this online phenomenon, many critics have come forward discrediting not only the campaign but also Invisible Children.
One common criticism revolves around the finances of Invisible Children, specifically the amount of money that actually goes to direct services and their lack of financial transparency. Several sources have noted that only 32% of Invisible Children’s funds go to direct contributions. In response to this criticism, Invisible Children’s CEO Ben Keesey released this video http://vimeo.com/38344284 as a follow up. In it he says, “Any claims that we don’t have financial transparency, or that we’re not audited every year by an independent firm, or that we don’t have financial integrity, just aren’t true.”
Another claim is that the Kony video is over simplifying the issue and promoting slactivism. For those who don’t know, Urban dictionary defines slactivism as “engaging socially in activism that requires little or no effort as part of a lifestyle or self-identity”. Is this a complicated issue? Absolutely. Is more action required than watching a video? Absolutely. But the fact that people are watching the video, sharing the video,being inspired, talking about human rights and foreign policy…that is what matters.
Another most upsetting (in my opinion) claim is that Kony 2012 is a representation of the white man’s burden. We could get into a whole other debate that I am very interested and passionate about… but references to race and imperialism are a stretch here. This is about a few people who were influenced by another individual’s struggle and story, and felt compelled to share it.
Keesey notes that Invisible Children bases their business around three areas- media, advocacy, and development. They aim to create compelling content to raise awareness; to motivate people to become engaged advocates; and then apply their resources on the ground. With regards to those key principals, the Kony 2012 video was a complete success.