In what may be the world’s fastest spreading instance of viral media, an activist video aimed at stopping Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony was viewed by more than 70 million people in its first six days on YouTube. The video, Kony 2012, was created by the nonprofit Invisible Children, whose former chief operating officer, Margery Dillenburg (SED’15), is a doctoral student at the School of Education.
Dean of Students Kenneth Elmore (SED’87) sat down with Dillenburg to talk about online activism and the commitment to social change by today’s college students, then posed a few questions on his blog.
The 29-minute Invisible Children video documents the atrocities of Kony, leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for 20 years of crimes against humanity, such as murder, sexual slavery, and forcing children to slaughter innocent people, including in some cases their parents. The creators of the film claim credit for pressuring President Obama to deploy 100 American military advisors to Africa in October, with the goal of removing Kony.
The film, and the astonishing speed with which it is spreading, has become the subject of much discussion by media experts, with some claiming that it misleads viewers about the LRA’s location and the magnitude of its current threat. Kony is no longer operating in Uganda, and his army is now believed to number fewer than 500. A United Nations report issued last fall put the number of people displaced by the LRA at 440,000.