Are Social Media Campaigns Like Kony Successful in Effecting Change
The use of social media as an activist tool poses interesting questions. The Joseph Kony video is a great case study. The film, celebrity involvement, a charity, Facebook, Twitter, and the ability to click and see the story of a Ugandan war lord and his treatment of children on 100 million smart phones sparked an international conversation. Debates over Ugandan politics, the motives and legitimacy of the charity (Invisible Children) who created the video, the frustration of journalists who reported the story 2 years ago to an apathetic audience, and whether the actual facts were vetted properly – lit up the airwaves and internet.
Continued on the next page
The discussions are useful. They serve as a natural fact checking process to determine whether there is a real problem that needs addressing, whether this was a fundraising manipulation by a charity, or both. Of course, more people will watch the video than read assorted articles by experts in that area, but, the information is out there to evaluate. Arguing whether this method of messaging is over simplified, sensational, biased, and bad for children is likewise useful as allows us to examine how we receive, process and restate information to each other and to our politicians. The celebrity factor is also at play here. Journalists couldn’t get the story heard years ago yet with the nudge of a couple of celebrity re-tweets it went viral. In other words, if the subject is interesting to Justin Bieber or Rihanna, we are more likely to hear about it.