If you haven’t already heard by now, Invisible Children (IC) has launched a new campaign by releasing a video. The campaign, KONY 2012, aims to increase awareness about Joseph Kony, the leader of the Lords Resistance Army, in order to raise support for his arrest.
This new campaign went viral basically overnight, and from a public relations perspective, it is brilliant. The amount of coverage it has gotten over the past two days is phenomenal. Although, there has been an overwhelming amount of backlash from people all over the country.
The main complaints against Invisible Children are:
- They are a shady organization; financially speaking.
- They don’t cooperate with the Better Business Bureau
- They have a low Charity Navigator rating
- The Ugandan army, who IC supports doesn’t have the best reputation.
Invisible Children just issued a response to all of these claims, but because I am curious by nature, I decided to do a little research of my own. This is what I found:
- As far as being financially shady, all of their financial records are on the IC website. Including their 2011 annual report. (You can decide for yourself how you feel about that).
- IC did not officially give its information to the BBB (IC explains the reason why they aren’t listed in their response to the backlash)
- They have 3 out of 4 stars on Charity Navigator
- For this issue, I have to start by saying there is no country in the world whose military doesn’t have some (or sometimes current) skeletons in its closet, the United States included. This doesn’t make it right,but it is true. The Ugandan Army has been investigated by the ICC for crimes committed during the 20 year war with the LRA. Although Prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo did note that the LRA had the worst documented cases.
Personally, I think the idea that individual people can indeed change the world is a fantastic thing to promote. Also, whether you’re a fan of Invisible Children or not, why wouldn’t you want to promote knowledge about Joseph Kony? The International Criminal Court wants Kony on 33 charges. These charges include crimes against humanity and war crimes. He has terrorized the people of Central Africa for 20 years. Under his direction his army has mutilated, raped, enslaved, kidnaped and killed tens of thousands of people.
I do understand this campaign deals with an extremely complex issue and I know that there are plenty more arguments for and against the campaign and the Invisible Children organization. But, this is what I saw were the most common issues brought up in blogs and on twitter. Personally I like that this controversy has made it so that thousands of people (myself included) have to do their own research and to think for themselves. After everything that I’ve read these past two days I’ve come to three simple conclusions to a not-so-simple problem.
Do I think that finding and stopping Kony is as easy as sharing a video on facebook and twitter and buying a bracelet? No. But I do think the awareness the campaign is spreading is a step in the right direction.
Do I fully support the Invisible Children organization? I haven’t quite made up my mind about that one, I still have some more research to do, but I did buy my action pack…. so we’ll see!
Do I think Invisible Children really knows their what their doing when it comes to social media? Absolutely!
“Never underestimate the power of a small, dedicated group of people to change the world; indeed, that is the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead