Two weeks ago, the name didn't mean anything to most people. Now it does--at least among those who are engaged with social media in some way. And while there are many reasons one could criticize Invisible Children or the "Kony 2012" video--inefficient use of donated funds, inaccurate or misleading information in the film, general naivete--it is impossible to argue with the tremendous success the film and the organization have achieved in getting people to talk, post, tweet, and think about an indicted war criminal who remains at large in Central Africa. As I write, the number of views on YouTube is over 74 million--almost 4 million more than when I checked yesterday; a Google search for "Kony" returns over 4 million web pages; and the film has been mentioned by White House press secretary Jay Carney, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland, and ICC chief prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo--not to mention many celebrities. Let's be clear about one thing: the most exacting scholarly research, the best-written books or journal articles, the most compelling television news pieces, and the most important court filings don't get this kind of attention--especially not in the demographic the Kony 2012 campaign has targeted.
Rather than add to the outpouring of commentary, I simply want to provide links to a few items, some of which are critical and some of which are laudatory. All, I think, make valid points.
Michael Wilkerson, blogging at foreignpolicy.com, offers a number of criticisms of the Kony 2012 campaign and concludes by hoping the repressive government of Yoweri Museveni in Uganda isn't strengthened by anti-Kony efforts.
Robert Mackey's post on "The Lede," a New York Times blog about the news, reports that many Africans have concerns about the campaign, including Teju Cole's suggestion that it represents another instance of the "White Savior Industrial Complex."
Alex Abad-Santos, on the Atlantic Wire, looks at Invisible Children's finances.
Nina Wegner, on the Huffington Post, focuses on what's good about Kony 2012.
Sean Carton, on the marketing site Click Z, avoids the policy and financial questions, stating, "'Kony 2012' is probably the best primer on how to use social media to raise awareness ever created." He goes on to analyze what has made the campaign so successful.