Kony 2012, Another Analysis

I know a million people have talked about and analyzed the Kony 2012 video, but I’m here to write another analysis.

When talking about this week’s discussion of “activism” and “citizen journalism”, I couldn’t help but wonder, aren’t they kind of the same thing in this day in age?

In the article “Five Reason’s Why the Kony Video Went Viral”, Suddath mentions that “activists use such platforms as YouTube and Vimeo to reach the people they are trying to help…”

In my opinion, it’s not just charities. It’s that girl in her room posting a how-to video on how to French braid your hair, or Denton residents angrily ranting on Twitter about a Subway restaurant being built on the square. These types turn to social media to reach a target audience and actively discuss, plan and carry out their beliefs and “campaigns”.

In addition to the five reasons Suddath gave, I believe that’s what made this video a viral success. You could relate to the guy telling the story not as a charity, but as someone sharing their opinion on YouTube.


Although the video brought millions of people together sharing their opinions over the video, some of those opinions were not in favor of this campaign.

Charlie Beckett, a citizen journalist himself posted on his blog that he felt the Kony 2012 video “misrepresents reality [and is]… is misguided.” On some level I agree with Mr. Beckett. Do we really know where Kony is and what is going on?


This is the problem with citizen journalism/activism, the spread of misinformation. This video being so popular spread potentially false information to millions of people. The spread of misinformation can be potentially harmful. Will this in the make things worse for those in Africa in the long run? How do we know where this money we are donating is really going? These are questions we must ask ourselves when watching a citizen journalist’s opinion.

Even Channel 4 journalists have taken a look at this video and blog about it and they see it as spreading falsities. However, they do agree that “this is the way to spread a video.”

Another reason Beckett felt the Kony video was distasteful is because “It will distract from real problems and disappoint people who have signed up. If it fails will people trust human rights campaigns in the future?” I have to ask myself this very same question, and the only real answer I can come up with is yes. Especially if those human rights groups format their videos to be like this one. (Which would be smart on their behalf). Not only that, people forget about causes and move on to the next thing. That is the power of the Internet and its affect on our state of activism. Finally there will always be someone out there who will donate to your cause if you spin it the correct way. So I have to disagree with Mr. Beckett on this account.

In the end, although potentially harmful and inaccurate “rumors” were spread through this Kony 2012 video, it did show the power viewers have on citizen journalism and charities alike.

-Ashleigh Dana

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2 Responses to Kony 2012, Another Analysis

  1. wlbranch2 says:

    One thing I remember thinking when I saw the Kony 2012 was that it was well made and incited the audience to act. Subtle transitions and the right tone throughout that made it feel NOT like a 30 minute informational video. I did some research on Kony, watched an unsanctioned interview with him and still felt not as informed as I could have. One (1) year later I find that I moved on, the one thing I worried about following Kony 2012 was that it would be perceived as a “fad” and it has. I am not trying to put down the activist behind the Kony 2012 movement, hell I am not even supposed to comment since I’ve already got my two blog post. Still I can’t help but wonder if and how the campaign could have been handled better, also it could have benefited more if the maker of the documentary did not get arrested for disorderly and lewd conduct. I digress….

  2. andjson says:

    The conversation about the dangers of citizen journalism and misinformation recently came to light during the week following the Boston Marathon Bombing. Recently, the official blog of Reddit posted an entry reflecting on their website’s role during that week. While writer Erik did speak about the good that they did (such as housing availability, food deliveries, and economic relief), he also spoke about the spread of misinformation of suspects. The subreddit r/findbostonbombers named people, who were decidedly innocent, and as is often the case on the internet, their entire life information was released. Because of this, the families and individuals themselves received death threats, racist comments, etc.

    I see a similarity between KONY and r/findbostonbombers. People are always going to be quick to react on emotion. The Kony video pulled at people’s heartstrings (especially shamelessly using his son in the video), and the Boston Bombing clearly struck an emotional chord with the public. When people become emotionally involved, they tend to act rashly. When acting rashly, people will generally not think through what they are doing/reading/seeing. If, say, after the Boston Bombing, someone says they’ve found out who the bomber is, and gives a name, then people acting on emotion will believe that and react accordingly. This is exactly what happened with Salah Barhoun and Sunil Tripathi regarding their false identification as the bombers. This is exactly what happened with KONY 2012. It’ll happen again, there’s no doubt about that. The more involved people become online, and the more pervasive the web and social technology becomes, the more likely misinformation can, and will, be spread.

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