KONY 2012 Creators Respond To Criticism as Documentary Becomes Most Viral Video Of All Time

By now you’ve probably seen or at least heard about KONY 2012—the documentary film about violence in Uganda aimed at drawing attention to the crisis and rallying support by making Joseph Kony, the crisis’ villain, famous.  The campaign, which has drawn its fair share of controversy in addition to support, has officially become the most viral online video campaign of all time.  Visible Measures reports that KONY 2012 is more viral than Susan Boyle, more viral than Justin Bieber, and more viral even than Rebecca Black.

Visible Measures reported yesterday that, “As of [Monday] morning, the Kony campaign has generated well over 100 million views, 112 million to be exact.  The views come from over 750 clips across the web, most coming from video responses to the campaign.  There are even translated and subtitled versions of the documentary popping up in Spanish, Italian, French, and Chinese.  There are over 860,000 comments for the campaign.”

To give you a better idea of how KONY 2012’s journey to 100 million looks in comparison to other viral videos, Visible Measures has put together the following chart representing the days it took various videos to get to 100 million views.  They explain how they arrived at the numbers in the chart.  “We measure online video based on True Reach, the combined performance of clips related to a ‘campaign.’  This provides a holistic and complete view of a campaign’s performance online.  In the instance of the Kony campaign, the main clip has 74 million views on YouTube.  The additional 38 million views come from the 750+ clips uploaded by audiences across the web.”

As views grow for the Kony campaign, so does the controversy surrounding it.  As I wrote in a blog post last week, a number of people believe that the Kony campaign falls short, to the point of doing more harm than it is good.  PhD student Mark Kersten writes, “In many ways, [the campaign] is quite impressive.  But there’s one glaring problem: the campaign reflects neither the realities of northern Uganda nor the attitudes of its people.”  Another student, Grant Oyston, has launched a Tumblr blog called Visible Children to get the “truth” out about Invisible Children, the group behind the campaign.

Invisible Children has responded to critics in a couple ways.  CEO Ben Keesey uploaded his own video response to critics to provide full transparency about Invisible Children and answer some of the questions that have been raised since KONY 2012 went viral.

Additionally, in response to accusations that they misrepresented the truth about the crisis in Uganda and oversimplified the issues, they’ve sent out a newsletter to those that have pledged support to stop Kony with more information.  The newsletter says, “We can all agree that the LRA needs to be stopped.  But achieving that simple goal is actually very complicated, and it’s our responsibility to be informed activists.”  The newsletter provides more details, including the fact that “The LRA has not been active in Uganda since 2006, but they’re currently carrying out attacks in DR Congo, Central African Republic, and South Sudan.”

They close their newsletter with, “This has been a big week for all of us, but more importantly for the conversation about bringing a permanent end to LRA violence.  And that’s what it’s about, not Invisible Children or KONY 2012.  It’s abut peace—and people all around the world coming together to achieve it.”

What’s your take on the viral spread of KONY 2012, the controversy surrounding Invisible Children, and the way they’ve responded?  We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Megan O’Neill is the resident web video enthusiast here at Social Times.  Megan covers everything from the latest viral videos to online video news and tips, and has a passion for bizarre, original and revolutionary content and ideas.

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