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Content with a conscience

Can online content coupled with the reach of social media bring a warlord to justice?

A fascinating blog post on the Sydney Morning Herald website throws up an interesting question. Can online content coupled with the reach and power of social media and a traditional advertising campaign bring an infamous African warlord to justice?


Joseph Kony is said to responsible for abducting over 30,000 Ugandan children

Joseph Kony is the head of the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda, and according to humanitarian group Invisible Children over the last 30 years he and his followers have abducted over 30,000 young children from their families, forcing the boys to murder their parents and become soldiers and turning the girls into sex slaves.

Now Invisible Children has made a documentary, Kony 2012, to raise global awareness of Kony’s alleged crimes and have him brought to the International Criminal Court to face trial. How? By harnessing the power of online and social media content.

Invisible Children has targeted 20 April as a day of action to ‘make Kony famous’. In addition to its online presence, where people can pledge their support and join the growing Facebook movement, a poster campaign is planned. In the meantime, the term #stopkony has been trending on Twitter, so the word is already getting out there.

As the Herald post points out, this approach is not without its critics: ‘Many internet users are now questioning the transparency of Invisible Children’s fundraising efforts, the amount of money it dedicates to its programs and where that money actually goes. Others ask why Joseph Kony, when so many other dictators and murderers have run wild – particularly in Africa – for decades?’

As The Message has reported before, online content is a powerful force for change, with social media helping effect regime change in a number of countries in the Middle East.

But this is something different – an attempt to raise awareness and bring an apparently murderous individual to justice. Whether it succeeds remains to be seen, but it surely will not be long before other organisations try using content for similar ends.

If you can bear to watch it, here is the Kony 2012 film:

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