Can Social Media Do What Foreign Policy Cannot?

The wildly viral Kony 2012 campaign has a simple and compelling narrative (Joseph Kony of Uganda is a warlord wanted for mass murders and children abductions) and has a call to action (share this video and donate to the cause). Forbes called this campaign a “video chain letter” that takes advantage of the facts that the cost of making videos have considerably gone down and technology and social media have made global distribution a breeze.

The 30-minute documentary, which got over 70 million hits on YouTube in less than a week, has sparked criticisms. How do you get Kony when he has not been in Uganda for the past 6 years? How do you account for the contributions pouring in from millions of “well-meaning but misinformed people” to the NGO Invisible Children behind the documentary when a complicated reality of immense suffering in some parts of Uganda still abound but the northern part, which is the area in question, has been at peace and is stable since Kony left? Criticisms of the documentary focus more on fears that the international court and the US’s efforts may increase conflict in Uganda.

The success of Kony 2012 as a piece of social media will likely stay on as a case study among foreign policy and political activist circles.

Read Guardian’s take on the social media success of the documentary.

Read Forbes’ opinion piece on what Kony 2012 campaign and the Solar flare have something in common. 

Watch Forbes’ video on social media and social activism here.

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