… My heart’s in Accra Ethan Zuckerman’s online home, since 2003

March 8, 2012

Unpacking Kony 2012

Filed under: Africa — Ethan @ 10:53 am

Traduzido para o Português por Natália Mazotte e Bruno Serman

This Monday, March 5th, the advocacy organization Invisible Children released a 30 minute video titled “Kony 2012“. The goal of the video is to raise awareness of Joseph Kony, leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army rebel group, a wanted war criminal, in the hopes of bringing him to justice.

By Thursday morning, March 8th, the video had been viewed more than 26 million times, and almost 12 million more times on Vimeo. (Needless to say, those numbers are now much higher.) It has opened up a fascinating and complicated discussion not just about the Lord’s Resistance Army and instability in northern Uganda and bordering states, but on the nature of advocacy in a digital age.

My goal, in this (long) blogpost is to get a better understanding of how Invisible Children has harnessed social media to promote their cause, what the strengths and limits of that approach are, and what some unintended consequences of this campaign might be. For me, the Kony 2012 campaign is a story about simplification and framing. Whether you ultimately support Invisible Children’s campaign – and I do not – it’s important to think through why it has been so successful in attracting attention online and the limits to the methods used by Invisible Children.

Who’s Joseph Kony, and who are Invisible Children?

Joseph Kony emerged in the mid 1980s as the leader of an organization, the Lord’s Resistance Army, that positioned itself in opposition to Yoweri Museveni, who took control of Uganda in 1986 after leading rebellions against Idi Amin and Milton Obote, previous rulers of Uganda. Museveni, from southern Uganda, was opposed by several armed forces in the north of the country, including Kony’s group, the Lord’s Resistance Army. Since the mid-1980s, northern Uganda has been a dangerous and unstable area, with civilians displaced from their homes into refugee camps, seeking safety from both rebel groups and the Ugandan military.

Kony and the LRA distinguished themselves from other rebel groups by their bizarre ideology and their violent and brutal tactics. The LRA has repeatedly kidnapped children, training boys as child soldiers and sexually abusing girls, who become porters and slaves. The fear of abduction by the LRA led to the phenomenon of the “night commute“, where children left their villages and came to larger cities to sleep, where the risk of LRA abduction was lower.

The Ugandan government has been fighting against Kony since 1987. In 2005, the International Criminal Court issued arrest warrants for Kony and four LRA organizers. The United States considers the LRA a terrorist group, and has cooperated with the Ugandan government since at least 2008 in attempting to arrest Kony.

Invisible Children is a US-based advocacy organization founded in 2004 by filmmakers Bobby Bailey, Laren Poole and Jason Russell. Initially interested in the conflict in Darfur, the filmmakers traveled instead to northern Uganda and began documenting the night commute and the larger northern Ugandan conflict. The image of children commuting to safety became a signature for Invisible Children, and they began a campaign in 2006 called the Global Night Commute, which invited supporters to sleep outside in solidarity with children in Northern Uganda.

As a nonprofit, Invisible Children has been engaged in efforts on the ground in northern Uganda and in bordering nations to build radio networks, monitoring movements of the LRA combattants, and providing services to displaced children and families. They’ve also focused heavily on raising awareness of the LRA and conflicts in northern Uganda, and on influencing US government policy towards the LRA. In 2010, President Obama committed 100 military advisors to the Ugandan military, focused on capturing Kony – Invisible Children was likely influential in persuading the President to make this pledge.

The Kony 2012 campaign, launched with the widely viewed video, focuses on the idea that the key to bringing Joseph Kony to justice is to raise awareness of his crimes. Filmmaker and narrator Jason Russell posits, “99% of the planet doesn’t know who Kony is. If they did, he would have been stopped years ago.”

To raise awareness of Kony, Russell urges viewers of the video to contact 20 “culturemakers” and 12 policymakers who he believes can increase the visibility of the LRA and increase chances of Kony’s arrest. More concretely, Russell wants to ensure that the 100 military advisors the Obama government has provided remain working with the Ugandan military to help capture and arrest Kony.

Criticism of the Kony 2012 campaign

As the Kony 2012 campaign has gained attention, it’s also encountered a wave of criticism. Tuesday evening, Grant Oyston, a 19-year old political science student at Acadia University in Nova Scotia published a Tumblr blog titled “Visible Children“, which offered multiple critiques of the Invisible Children campaign. That site has attracted over a million views, tens of thousands of notes, and evidently buried Oyston in a wave of email responses.

The Visible Children tumblr points out that Invisible Children spends less than a third of the money they’ve raised on direct services in northern Uganda and bordering areas. The majority of their funding is focused on advocacy, filmmaking and fundraising. It also questions whether the strategy Invisible Children proposes – supporting the Ugandan military to seek Kony – is viable and points out that the Ugandan military has a poor human rights record in northern Uganda. (Invisible Children reacts to some of these criticism in this blog post.)

As a set of Kony-related hashtags trended on Twitter yesterday, some prominent African and Afrophile commentators pointed out that the Invisible Children campaign gives little or no agency to the Ugandans the organization wants to help. There are no Africans on the Invisible Children board of directors and few in the senior staff. And the Invisible Children approach focuses on American awareness and American intervention, not on local solutions to the conflicts in northern Uganda. This led Ugandan blogger and activist Teddy Ruge – who works closely on community development projects in Uganda – to write a post responding to the Invisible Children campaign titled “A piece of my mind: Respect my agency 2012“, asking supporters of Invisible Children to consider whether IC’s framing of the situation is a correct one, whether IC’s efforts focus too heavily on sustaining the organization, and whether a better way to support people of northern Uganda would be to work with community organizations focusing on rebuilding displaced communities.

Other criticisms have focused on more basic issues: Kony is no longer in Uganda, and it is no longer clear that the LRA represents a major threat to stability in the region. Reporting on an LRA attack in north-eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, a UN spokesman described the attack as “he last gasp of a dying organisation that’s still trying to make a statement.” The spokesman believes that the LRA is now reduced to about 200 fighters, as well as a band of women and children who feed and support the group. Rather than occupying villages, as the LRA did when they were stronger, they now primarily conduct 5-6 person raids on villages to steal food.

Invisible Children’s theory of change… and the problem with that theory

I’d like to start an analysis of Invisible Children’s techniques by giving Jason Russell and his colleagues the benefit of the doubt. I think they sincerely believe that Kony and the LRA must be brought to justice, and that their campaign is appropriate even though Kony’s impact on the region is much smaller than it was five to ten years ago. While it’s very easy to be cynical about their $30 action kit, I think they genuinely believe that the key to arresting Kony is raising awareness and pressuring the US government.

I think, however, that they are probably wrong.

Kony and his followers have fled northern Uganda and sought shelter in parts of the world where this is little or no state control over territory: eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, eastern Central African Republic and southwestern Southern Sudan. The governments that nominally control these territories have little or no ability to protect their borders, and have proven themselves helpless when international agencies like the ICC have demanded their help in arresting Kony.

Finding Kony isn’t a simple thing to do. The areas in which he and his forces operate are dense jungle with little infrastructure. The small size of the LRA is an additional complication – with a core group of a few hundred and raiding parties of a handful of individuals, satellite imagery isn’t going to detect the group – that’s why Invisible Children and others are trying to build networks that allow people affected by the LRA to report attacks, as those attacks are one of the few ways we might plausibly find the LRA.

Russell argues that the only entity that can find and arrest Kony is the Ugandan army. Given that the Ugandan army has been trying, off and on, since 1987 to find Kony, that seems like a troublesome strategy. Journalist Michael Wilkerson, who has reported on the LRA for many years, notes that the Ugandan army is poorly equipped, underfed, incompetent and deeply corrupt. Past efforts to crack down on Kony have failed due to poor planning, poor coordination and Kony’s deeply honed skills at hiding in the jungle.

Complicating matters, Kony continues to rely on child soliders. That means that a military assault – targeted to a satellite phone signal or some other method used to locate Kony – would likely result in the death of abducted children. This scenario means that many northern Ugandans don’t support military efforts to capture or kill Kony, but advocate for approaches that offer amnesty to the LRA in exchange for an end to violence and a return of kidnapped children.

Invisible Children have demonstrated that they can raise “awareness” through a slickly produced video and successful social media campaign. It is possible – perhaps likely – that this campaign will increase pressure on President Obama to maintain military advisors in Uganda. As Wilkerson points out in a recent post, there’s no evidence the President had threatened to pull those advisors. And as Mark Kersten observes, it’s likely that those advisors are likely in Uganda as a quid pro quo for Ugandan support for US military aims in Somalia. In other words, the action Invisible Children is asking for has been taken… and, unfortunately, hasn’t resulted in the capture of Kony.

The problem with oversimplification

The campaign Invisible Children is running is so compelling because it offers an extremely simple narrative: Kony is a uniquely bad actor, a horrific human being, whose capture will end suffering for the people of Northern Uganda. If each of us does our part, influences powerful people, the world’s most powerful military force will take action and Kony will be captured.

Russell implicitly acknowledges the simplicity of the narrative with his filmmaking. Much of his short film features him explaining to his young son that Kony is a bad guy, and that dad’s job is capturing the bad guy. We are asked to join the campaign against Kony literally by being spoken to as a five year old. It’s not surprising that a five year old vision of a problem – a single bad guy, a single threat to eliminate – leads to an unworkable solution. Nor is it a surprise that this extremely simple narrative is compelling and easily disseminated.

Severine Autesserre, a scholar focused on the Democratic Republic of Congo, has recently written an important paper on the narratives and framings of the conflict in eastern DRC. (I know of this paper only through the good graces of Dr. Laura Seay, whose Texas in Africa blog is required reading for anyone who is interested in Central Africa, and who has been one of the prominent voices on Twitter calling for reconsideration of Invisible Children’s strategy.)

Autesserre’s paper argues that the wildly complicated conflict in eastern DRC has been reduced to a fairly simple narrative by journalists and NGOs: to gain control of mineral riches, rebel armies are using rape as a weapon of war, and they should be stopped by the DRC government. This narrative is so powerful because “certain stories resonate more, and thus are more effective at influencing action, when they assign the cause of the problems to ‘the deliberate actions of identifiable individuals’, when they include ‘bodily harm to vulnerable individuals, especially when there is a short and clear causal chain assigning responsibility'; when they suggest a simple solution; ad when they can latch on to pre-existing narratives.”

Sound familiar? The Kony story resonates because it’s the story of an identifible individual doing bodily harm to children. It’s a story with a simple solution, and it plays into existing narratives about the ungovernability of Africa, the power of US military and the need to bring hidden conflict to light.

Here’s the problem – these simple narratives can cause damage. By simplifying the DRC situation to a conflict about minerals, the numerous other causes – ethnic tensions, land disputes, the role of foreign militaries – are all minimized. The proposed solutions – a ban on the use of “conflict minerals” in mobile phones – sounds good on paper. In practice, it’s meant that mining of coltan is no longer possible for artisanal miners, who’ve lost their main source of financial support – instead, mining is now dominated by armed groups, who have the networks and resources to smuggle the minerals out of the country and conceal their origins. Similarly, the focus on rape as a weapon of war, Autesserre argues, has caused some armed groups to engage in mass rape as a technique to gain attention and a seat at the negotiating table. Finally, the focus on the Congolese state as a solution misses the point that the state has systematically abused power and that the country’s rulers have used power to rob their citizenry. A simple, easily disseminated narrative, Autesserre argues, has troublesome unintended consequences.

What are the unintended consequences of the Invisible Children narrative? The main one is increased support for Yoweri Museveni, the dictatorial and kleptocratic leader of Uganda. Museveni is now on his fourth presidential term, the result of an election seen as rigged by EU observers. Museveni has asserted such tight control over dissenting political opinions that his opponents have been forced to protest his rule through a subtle and indirect means – walking to work to protest the dismal state of Uganda’s economy. Those protests have been violently suppressed.

The US government needs to pressure Museveni on multiple fronts. The Ugandan parliament, with support from Museveni’s wife, has been pushing a bill to punish homosexuality with the death penalty. The Obama administration finds itself pressuring Museveni to support gay and lesbian rights and to stop cracking down on the opposition quite so brutally, while asking for cooperation in Somalia and against the LRA. An unintended consequence of Invisible Children’s campaign may be pushing the US closer to a leader we should be criticizing and shunning.

Can we advocate without oversimplifying?

I am now almost three thousand words into this blogpost, and I am aware that I am oversimplifying the situation in northern Uganda… and also aware that I haven’t simplified it enough. It makes perfect sense that a campaign to create widespread awareness of conflict in northern Uganda would want to simply this picture down to a narrative of good versus evil, and a call towards action. While I resent the emotionally manipulative video Invisible Children have produced, I admire the craft of it. They begin with a vision of a changing global world, where social media empowers individuals as never before. They craft a narrative around a passionate, driven advocate – Jason Russell – and show us the reasons for his advocacy – his friendship with a Ugandan victim of Kony. The video has a profound “story of self” that makes it possible for individuals to connect with and relate to. And Invisible Children constructs a narrative where we can help, and where we’re shirking our responsibility as fellow human beings if we don’t help.

The problem, of course, is that this narrative is too simple. The theory of change it advocates is unlikely to work, and it’s unclear if the goal of eliminating Kony should still be a top priority in stabilizing and rebuilding northern Uganda. By offering support to Museveni, the campaign may end up strengthening a leader with a terrible track record.

A more complex narrative of northern Uganda would look at the odd, codependent relationship between Museveni and Kony, Uganda’s systematic failure to protect the Acholi people of northern Uganda. It would look at the numerous community efforts, often led by women, to mediate conflicts and increase stability. It would focus on the efforts to rebuild the economy of northern Uganda, and would recognize the economic consequences of portraying northern Uganda as a war zone. It would feature projects like Women of Kireka, working to build economic independence for women displaced from their homes in Northern Uganda.

Such a narrative would be lots harder to share, much harder to get to “go viral”.

I’m starting to wonder if this is a fundamental limit to attention-based advocacy. If we need simple narratives so people can amplify and spread them, are we forced to engage only with the simplest of problems? Or to propose only the simplest of solutions?

As someone who believes that the ability to create and share media is an important form of power, the Invisible Children story presents a difficult paradox. If we want people to pay attention to the issues we care about, do we need to oversimplify them? And if we do, do our simplistic framings do more unintentional harm than intentional good? Or is the wave of pushback against this campaign from Invisible Children evidence that we’re learning to read and write complex narratives online, and that a college student with doubts about a campaign’s value and validity can find an audience? Will Invisible Children’s campaign continue unchanged, or will it engage with critics and design a more complex and nuanced response.

That’s a story worth watching.

265 Comments

  1. But… what CAN we do? Much of the appeal of Kony2012 is that it gives us white, American liberals a method to engage and do SOMETHING with our bleeding hearts. I have no doubt of the complexity of the problem, and I appreciate the detailed blog post you’ve written. But you’ve made the same omission as many others who’ve written truthful narratives about Africa: you’ve left us with the impression that there is no solution, because all the players are bad and untrustworthy, so we shrug our shoulders, blame the Africans, and turn away. Give us hope; point us toward a solution; give us something specific and achievable to do! This is what Invisible Children has appreciated about human psychology and has done so effectively.

    Comment by Erin — March 8, 2012 @ 11:47 am

  2. Thank you for a very interesting blog post about a story which is indeed worth watching.

    I agree with you that Invisible Children’s strategy is simplistic. My initial thought was that it was naïve. But then I wonder if we are really underestimating this strategy. After all, millions and millions of people have watched this video and they are now engaging in debates, which reveal the complexity of the situation – your blog post is an example of this. And these debates will undoubtedly influence the actions that will be taken by policymakers and others. So isn’t the simplicity, which has made so many people watch and share the video exactly what now leads to more complex discussions? Would you have written this if the immediate strategy of Invisible Children had been more realistic, but only 200.000 people had watched the video?

    Comment by Nina Grønlykke Mollerup — March 8, 2012 @ 11:56 am

  3. Erin, thanks for the comment. You’re right that my post doesn’t give “white American liberals a method to engage and so SOMETHING with our bleeding hearts.” For one thing, I’m not sure the LRA is the issue I’d urge people to engage with right now – I think pressuring the US to take the lead on Syria is likely a higher priority.

    Here’s what I do as a white American liberal focused on sub-Saharan Africa:

    – I write about a range of stories about issues on the continent. Some look at tragic situations like northern Uganda (which I’ve been writing about since 2006). Some look at stories of innovation and creativity on the continent. I try to feature a variety of views of a complicated continent, because looking at Africa in terms of crisis and failure ends up being a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    – I support local, African-led organizations that work on problems in their community, through financial support, writing about their work, and in a few cases, sitting on their boards of directors.

    – I support organizations like Medicines Sans Frontieres that have consistently done important work providing health and medical care to people affected by conflicts in Central Africa and elsewhere. I pick these organizations because they spend less money on “awareness-raising” and advocacy and more funds on the ground.

    I don’t know if those approaches will help you in your quest for something “specific and achievable”, but I’ve found it more satisfying than supporting efforts like this one.

    Comment by Ethan — March 8, 2012 @ 12:05 pm

  4. Nina, thanks for the comment. While I think you’re right that Invisible Children has opened debates and drawn a great deal of attention to this subject, I don’t know that this is something we want to celebrate uncritically. Is someone going to be able to call attention to Syria, where ongoing violence is killing more people than Kony is currently killing? Should we pay attention to the LRA because Invisible Children is more effective at using social media than the Free Syrian Army is? I wish there had been as effective a push for visibility of the LRA six years ago when the conflict was raging – I am unsure this massive wave of attention at the moment is really appropriate or helpful.

    Comment by Ethan — March 8, 2012 @ 12:12 pm

  5. […] Ethan Zuckerman, Unpacking Kony 2012 […]

    Pingback by GV Uganda: Can a Viral Video Really #StopKony? « Rebekah Heacock | Jackfruity — March 8, 2012 @ 12:22 pm

  6. For all the criticisms you can make about this video, the people behind it and the IC organization, it is raising a lot of awareness and discussion around some very important issues. Yes it may be oversimplifying things, but the alternative seems to be that nobody (or comparatively few) would be thinking about these things at all. All they have really called for is increased awareness. Those who feel compelled to act will have to give more considered thought to their actions. This goes for individuals and governments.

    Comment by Geoff C — March 8, 2012 @ 12:50 pm

  7. […] Unpacking Kony 2012 via Ethan Zuckerman – “I’m starting to wonder if this is a fundamental limit to attention-based advocacy. If we need simple narratives so people can amplify and spread them, are we forced to engage only with the simplest of problems? Or to propose only the simplest of solutions?” Share this:FacebookTwitterStumbleUponDiggTumblrRedditEmailPrintLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. from → good intentions ← Are stories good or bad? 3 Comments leave one → […]

    Pingback by The problem with Kony 2012 « Hands Wide Open — March 8, 2012 @ 1:23 pm

  8. Geoff, the point of this essay was to question the idea of whether just “raising awareness” is a reasonable goal. I just argued, at some length, that raising awareness, if it involves oversimplifying to the point of harm is not helpful. Sorry my case didn’t persuade you.

    Comment by Ethan — March 8, 2012 @ 1:50 pm

  9. […] them for this, but still disagree): http://www.invisiblechildren.com/critiques.html Ehtan Zuckerman: Unpacking Kony2012 International Crisis Group:  The LRA: End Game? Nov 2011 and last but not least Foreign Policy […]

    Pingback by Someone is WRONG on the Internet | erininjuba — March 8, 2012 @ 1:50 pm

  10. […] “It is no longer clear that the LRA represents a major threat to stability in the region.” (source) […]

    Pingback by Why Kony 2012 Brought Out the Cyber-Skeptic in Me | The Meta-Activism Project — March 8, 2012 @ 3:10 pm

  11. But can we have our cake and eat it too?

    Comment by AsteriskCGY — March 8, 2012 @ 4:41 pm

  12. Here’s an idea. Why doesn’t everyone stay home in their own countries for the next ten years and fix all the crap that’s wrong there. Then when America has sorted its very serious problems, it can go out and do good somewhere. Same for the UK, Canada, France, etc. I would like to start a campaign called “Stay Home Instead of Travel.” Tag line…..Fix your own SHIT. I have been an aid worker for past 15 years, traveled to all of ’em, tsunami, s. Sudan, Darfur, Iraq, Afghanistan, Haiti, etc. etc. Guess what folks! It aint working very well. And while that’s a pretty big statement let me boil it down. It aint given the world much of a ROI, return on investment. Point in case, billiions $$$ in aid to Somalia/Ethiopia Horn of Africa since 85 and Live Aid. Still looks like a bomb went off. People still living in huts, eating hand outs, and dying like flies (with the flies). So, pls everyone take a big SHIT. Fix your own backyard before you think about fixing the world.

    Comment by Steve — March 8, 2012 @ 4:41 pm

  13. Once again there are those who rush to poke holes in an initiative to do good. Sure this may not be the most important thritstuning facing the world right now. Sure there may be better activities which can be adopted. Too often though, there are those who just love to undermine any initiative that mobilizes global support for a good cause…particularly when it involves the youth of the world. Let’s not look for excuses let’s ACT.

    Comment by Luke — March 8, 2012 @ 4:46 pm

  14. […] and promote thoughtful, informed dialogue on complicated issues like this one. Ethan has a great roundup of links from various African voices. And Global Voices contributor Rebekah Heacock has an extensive post here, which gathers opinions […]

    Pingback by African voices respond to hyper-popular Kony 2012 viral campaign | HEY LAURENT VOANH IS HERE — March 8, 2012 @ 5:01 pm

  15. I absolutely agree with you. My point is just that the problem is not necessarily with their strategy.

    Comment by Nina Grønlykke Mollerup — March 8, 2012 @ 5:14 pm

  16. […] minute advocacy video from the California based non-profit Invisible Children, Ethan Zuckerman asks: Should we pay attention to the LRA because Invisible Children is more effective at using social me…, highlighting the importance of equipping a wider variety of advocates with tactics for getting […]

    Pingback by Digital Media and Social Change Round Up | the engine room — March 8, 2012 @ 5:15 pm

  17. […] a lengthy post, blogger Ethan Zuckerman suggests that the problem is more layered than that. Zuckerman is the […]

    Pingback by Kony 2012 campaign gets support of Obama, others – Washington Post (blog) | Heepto News — March 8, 2012 @ 5:49 pm

  18. […] smartest person in the world when it comes to Internet activism. He has a long take on Kony 2012 on his blog. Here’s some short clips from it: My goal, in this (long) blogpost is to get a better […]

    Pingback by About Kony 2012 | Hourclass — March 8, 2012 @ 6:55 pm

  19. Dear Ethan:

    It seems to me that the viral effect of the video, at the end, it is not related to a “joining the cause decision”, but more likely, to center the focus on Africa again, in a place left by the media, and because we didn´t know who Joseph Kony is, or the LRA (sorry my ignorance, but precisely that the point), we (may) understand that the conflict in Africa (and any conflict) is even bigger than we know.

    I think, if we can develope very accesible media like this, about different situations around the globe, we should be able to construct the views that can describe the complexity and diversity of reality accurately, more at least than only one great piece of work….

    Best regards

    Comment by CMC — March 8, 2012 @ 6:59 pm

  20. THANK YOU Ethan. Great post. Unlike many others on the subject…..this time I learned a great deal and feel much less confused.

    Comment by Liz McLellan — March 8, 2012 @ 7:07 pm

  21. To capture this as#$%&@ole just put a little oil in that region and the US goverment will last about 5 minutes to shot him in the head…

    Comment by Pancho Guillen — March 8, 2012 @ 7:47 pm

  22. […] if their goal is to spark a conversation then spark a conversation they did.  Perhaps the best thing to come out of Kony 2012 will not be the capture of a man hiding in the […]

    Pingback by Kony 2012 Part 2 – Criticism « Female Gazing — March 8, 2012 @ 8:08 pm

  23. Ethan, thank you for your post. I am a graduate student studying Human Rights and you put words to ideas I’ve been trying to articulate for the past 24 hours. This whole ordeal has me deeply questioning the best ways to approach advocacy.
    Is awareness important? Yes. Is awareness enough? No, particularly not if it comes at a high cost. Advocacy that doesn’t promote agency falls woefully short of the mark.

    Comment by Rachel — March 8, 2012 @ 8:08 pm

  24. My college-age child brought Kony 2012 to my attention. This is the email I wrote to her in response:
    ==================
    I had not heard about this. I watched the video and was astonished that Kony has been doing this for 20 years unabated. The Invisible Children movement is pretty amazing. We will be in [ ] on April 20th and I anticipate it will be covered with posters when we wake up on the 21st.

    I did a little research and Invisible Children is not without its detractors. People question why they have raised over $20 mm but only spent 34% on the ground in Africa. 46% has gone to publicity/advertising and the like. The remainder to administration. While you like to see much higher percentages spent on actually helping people, part of their mission it public awareness and (I hope) most of the 46% has gone in that direction. Other critics say that Kony has been driven out of Uganda and his followers are (only) in the hundreds. The video implied that his army was much bigger — 30,000 — and that number seems like spin. Uganda is much safer than it was (although it certainly won’t be a tourist hot spot anytime soon) and critics argue that while Kony is still at large, his influence is broken, the crisis is old news. Those criticisms sounds right to me, although there is always the risk of his return. But sending a signal that his crimes, just because they are not necessarily ongoing needn’t be punished, is not right.

    I find the way they have gone about it — targeting opinion makers and policy people — to be smart. Taking advantage of social media in a way that even 10 years ago could only be imagined shows that the rules have really changed. Unfortunately, human nature has not and will not.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Comment by Jonathan — March 8, 2012 @ 9:30 pm

  25. I very much appreciate your thorough post and your practical insight. Well worded (what I believe, but unable to communicate it the way you did.) Thank you!

    Comment by Kathy — March 8, 2012 @ 9:58 pm

  26. 100% agree with what Luke said. Yes, it may seem selfish to think of *gasp* helping ourselves before others, but, in the long run, it is MUCH better for the world. As the saying goes, “give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day, teach a man to fish and he’ll eat for a lifetime”. right now all we are doing is “giving” help to countries that are desperately in need of it, but not enough help to make them self sufficient, only enough to briefly sustain them and celebrate that we “did” something. That is, unfortunately, what I see Invisible Children as doing.

    If those of us in first-world countries (I myself am an American) were to take the time to solve some pressing issues (outsourcing labor, immense debt, poverty, decline of education, etc), then we could spend the next however many years fixing up whats wrong here. AFTER that, we would have a much greater ability to lend a hand to other nations, and “teach them to fish”, allowing for THEIR sustainability, and once they get back on their feet, they can continue to reach out, and thus a circle starts.
    Call it a gilded plan or oversimplified view, but I firmly believe that if we want to fix any problems abroad then we need to fix our own first. Then maybe we can be using our own money (not what we borrowed) to help people who truly need it. As for what you can do, if you’re one of the “white, American liberals [looking for] a method to engage and do SOMETHING with our bleeding hearts”, I’d suggest volunteer work around your city. Yes, throwing money (that you may or may not have) at a problem is often a “feel good” solution, as IC proves, you don’t know where that money is going.

    I know that many of you might not have done any good old-fashioned Community Service in a while, but its an idea so crazy it just might work.

    Cam

    Comment by Cam — March 8, 2012 @ 10:02 pm

  27. “I wish there had been as effective a push for visibility of the LRA six years ago when the conflict was raging” (second reply by Ethan).
    Six years ago, Invisible Children was pushing as hard as they are now. I am a witness to that. On April 29th, 2006, I was in Washington DC at John Marshall Place Park participating in the international awareness event Global Night Commute with Co-founder Bobby Bailey and about a thousand other peaceful protesters. In 2007 I participated in the Northern Uganda Lobby day and Symposium, and I also volunteered at IC’s second international event, Displace Me, with 10,000 other peace warriors on the National Mall. In 2009, I volunteered at their third event, The Rescue, in St. Paul Mn. This is not IC’s first walk around the block, but this IS their most effective. I believe that even though Joseph Kony may not pose as big a threat as he did in the past, every life he threatens is one that WE CAN DO SOMETHING ABOUT. Just because Joseph Kony has changed his tactics in an attempt to escape justice, doesn’t mean he should just get a free pass; the ICC indicted him for good reason. I agree that Syria also deserves awareness (btw, IC was started by three ordinary guys who had the passion and the guts to stand for what they perceived as abhorrent… nothing’s stopping you from starting your own grassroots campaign for Syria), but I don’t have an outlet for that. Because of IC, i can do something about Uganda. I can stand beside thousands (and now millions) of other people all standing together as one and make the world a better place by ridding it of one of it’s most despicable inhabitants. This world has a lot of issues, and believe me, I wish i could fix them all, but i can’t. We can talk about those problems ’til the cows come home, but nothing will get done unless someone takes a stand somewhere. I’m taking my stand here.

    Comment by Ben — March 8, 2012 @ 10:36 pm

  28. A more complex narrative of northern Uganda would look at… would recognize… would feature…. Would. The world doesn’t pay attention to “would”, but rather to “does”. So make a brilliant video, write a captivating novel, shoot a photo documentary, and get it across to 38 million viewers.

    Comment by Marjo — March 8, 2012 @ 10:39 pm

  29. duhh, of course finding KONY is difficult.. That’s why Invisible children has resorted to a different campaign! This idea that Africa is so hopeless is exactly why nothing ever gets done!

    Comment by Karanja — March 8, 2012 @ 10:50 pm

  30. […] approach to this subject, which is in part articulated by this report from Ethan Zuckerman – Unpacking Kony 2012  As a follow up we need to discuss the issue of simplifying narratives to gain media attention, […]

    Pingback by KONY 2012 : CAUSE RELATED VIRAL MEDIA : CASE STUDY « Agent M Media Files — March 8, 2012 @ 11:27 pm

  31. Both the video and the criticism are of vital importance. One completes the other! The video was incredibly sucessfull at drawing people’s attention (specially the disinformed youth) to a vulnerable place such as Uganda, while the constructive criticism did an excelent job at explaining the situation with more depth and greater detail. I believe that to advocate that the video does more harm than good is at best harsh, and probably unwise. Nevertheless, I also see the honest and knowledgeable criticism as something crucial for a better insight on what goes on in a place where most people can’t point out to on the map, but that is inhabited by people who are just as important as those living in the United States of America.

    Comment by pedrofrar — March 9, 2012 @ 12:10 am

  32. Thanks for a great article. I am developing a Webquest for secondary students and would like to use your article as one of the essential readings. Hope it is OK.

    Comment by Sandy — March 9, 2012 @ 12:49 am

  33. Ethan…your article is spot on! I encountered the founders of IC back in 2004 before anyone knew who they were. I was also an activist trying to address the situation in northern Uganda by ensuring that local youth organizations of IDP youth were receiving the resources they needed to advocate on their own behalf.

    Even back then, I was alarmed and upset by how they often got their facts wrong. Their earliest films used stock footage of child soldiers from Sierra Leone and tried to pass them off as LRA children. They also broke a number of cardinal rules when filming and interviewing children. A number of my local colleagues who have encountered their work in their community have expressed disappointment in the quality of IC’s aid to war affected youth, especially considering that IC has a budget over $13 million with only a 3rd actually going to programs (in case you are wondering, the standard for respected not-for profits is 80% going to programs).

    That all said, I am impressed by their ability to raise small armies of followers. They certainly know how to make use of social/viral marketing for advocacy purposes. But as you said, have they over simplified the reality of the situation in Uganda? Have they oversimplified the call to action? I believe, YES, they have.

    For the other readers here who negate your critique (such as the comment offered “you’ve left us with the impression that there is no solution”), exemplifies just how much our society always seeks out the simple solution. Unless “we” are given a simple solution, then we collectively feel there is no solution. This is at the heart of why we are under the yoke of so many challenges.

    Complex situations deserve well thought out approaches. My northern Ugandan friends say that whereas they do want Kony brought to justice, what they want more is considerable investment into their transitional society. Uganda is by virtue, two countries – the north and the south. Chasing Kony is not as important as building schools, hospitals, roads, businesses, electrical and internet infrastructures, and so on in the North.

    Yes, Kony must be brought to justice, but Museveni must commune with the north honestly and ensure that the Acholi people are not forgotten. The viral campaign to make sure we know who Kony is should instead be replaced with a viral campaign to teach us who the proud Acholi people are, and what they want, deserve, and are capable of doing once given the opportunity.

    It is not about undermining Invisible Children’s initiative, it is about valuing the people of Northern Uganda and recognizing their humanity. Rather than buying action packs from Invisible Children (which to be honest pays for their films more than it pays for community aid), directly support local NGOs in northern Uganda.

    Comment by mateo — March 9, 2012 @ 1:25 am

  34. […] […]

    Pingback by How the Kony Video Went Viral - NYTimes.com — March 9, 2012 @ 2:53 am

  35. […] Ethan Zuckerman, director of the Center for Civic Media at M.I.T. asked questions on his blog about whether Mr. Russell’s approach to simplify the story about Mr. Kony could make […]

    Pingback by How the Kony Video Went Viral Rhonn Mitchell Rhonn Laighton Mitchell — March 9, 2012 @ 3:11 am

  36. […] increased when I watched the video (patronising much?), and then increased even more when I read this thoughtful post about why the IC campaign won’t work, and why it isn’t a justified use of […]

    Pingback by Why I’m wary of KONY2012 | The Opinionist — March 9, 2012 @ 4:17 am

  37. […] – “[Kony2012] has opened up a fascinating and complicated discussion not just about the Lord’s Resistance Army and instability in northern Uganda and bordering states, but on the nature of advocacy in a digital age“, scrive Ethan Zuckerman nel suo blog. […]

    Pingback by #Kony2012 e Invisible Children: una campagna critica da diversi punti vista « — March 9, 2012 @ 6:54 am

  38. You have to remember this was made with all intentions to give the ‘west’ an insight into these violent acts. Yes, they have been going on for decades…but now, a huge majority of the ‘west’ are engagingly aware of this situation. (majority of which 3 days ago were not) Sadly, a huge population of the ‘west’ need things to be dramatically oversimplified. I think it’s beautiful to see so many people from all ages, races, and continents be genuinely concerned for one cause. from this global awareness other problems and circumstances will have room to come to light. And therefore unity shall continue to stand, not just for this cause, but for the so many others that sadly plague our world! :)

    Comment by Avelina — March 9, 2012 @ 7:05 am

  39. […] and promote thoughtful, informed dialogue on complicated issues like this one. Ethan has a great roundup of links from various African voices. And Global Voices contributor Rebekah Heacock has an extensive post here, which gathers opinions […]

    Pingback by African voices respond to hyper-popular Kony 2012 viral campaign — March 9, 2012 @ 7:08 am

  40. Thank you for your post, Ethan. I could not agree more with the points you’ve raised about Kony2012. I also agree that Syria is a much more pertinent issue right now. Another argument that I think is worthy of consideration, is how making this man ‘famous’ has the very real possibility of backfiring to epic proportions. As we’ve seen with other cases, when US media targets a foreign individual, a ‘bad guy,’ it can serve to make that person famous among other ‘bad guys’ as well. Singling out Kony might very well attract more money and resources to his struggle, thereby enabling, or even bolstering, prolonged conflict. Kony hasn’t historically supported himself with only his own means, of course. He’s been in and out of negotiations with other governments, individuals, and militias for years. This issue with IC is not only about an NGO and development aid, it is also very much about the governments and political interests that IC will inevitably be seen as representing. In this way, the Kony2012 campaign has great potential for escalating into a foreign policy nightmare, where everyone is crying sovereignty and conspiracies and self-determination – even more than already. A continuing conflict, enabled by increased resources to Kony, would benefit no one – except maybe the NGOs that depend on conflict and instability to raise money and continue their ‘work.’

    Comment by ReiraHC — March 9, 2012 @ 7:15 am

  41. […] also read Ethan Zuckerman’s skeptical take on whether arresting Kony will really save Uganda here. And finally, a group called the Complexity Project posted an excellent rebuttal in the form of a […]

    Pingback by Quickies: 3/9/2012 - Queereka — March 9, 2012 @ 10:03 am

  42. Sounds like what you’re saying is that advocacy groups have two options: be narrow and deep or broad and shallow. Since deep knowledge just doesn’t scale, some trade-offs are going to need to be made.

    Playing devil’s advocate a bit, if social media allows the everyday user to become involved in advocacy campaigns even if they may not have deep enough knowledge to understand the problem, isn’t that a better thing than no engagement at all? If only the most fully informed can participate, aren’t we limiting the value of the tools at our disposal? Do we get a net benefit for people engaging that wouldn’t have otherwise, even if they’re a bit misguided, than leaving advocacy to the professionals?

    Personally, I think we have to live with some misguided efforts and try to find strategic ways to ride the coattails of the attention they garner rather than scold and turn our noses up (which, as a quasi-outsider, is what I see the advocacy community doing over and over again in situations like this).

    Comment by Catherine — March 9, 2012 @ 10:41 am

  43. […] Kony 2012 thing, of course, is not as simple as it seems at first. An excellent critique of the Invisible Children’s […]

    Pingback by All the news that’s fit for Bulls — Friday, March 9 « The Digital Bullpen — March 9, 2012 @ 11:12 am

  44. Ethan,

    great job on this post… you have captured so much nuance, and as you say, there is still more, but you took us several levels deeper and that’s a good thing.

    in response to your final questions… I think the advocacy tactics here have been fabulously effective. The key is getting the right “ask” to go with those tactics, which is an epic fail in this case.

    Just arresting Kony or buying $30 bracelets isn’t good enough. I think we need better articulation of the more sophisticated theories of change that do have a chance of helping (not solving, but helping — to solve implies a great deal of arrogance, and a concerning lack of humility, no?).

    Those truly helpful theories of change involve so many more pieces and so many more actors, (several good ideas mentioned in your post and even more in the comments above).

    Some might think getting attention on these kinds of more nuanced interventions is impossible, but that’s not true. This video could easily have included a click thru to a 10 point plan that has two sentences on each point. Good advocacy work would have actions that could be taken to support each of the 10 points: contributions, additional advocacy, partnering, outreach, helping others understand the nuances.

    We need to find effective ways to channel the beautiful, generous impulses of young people who want to make a difference, both westerners and Africans. The oversimplified solutions do not serve anyone well, but I think that if the community thought about it a bit, we could come up with 10 things that folks who want to help CAN do that might be effective.

    Perhaps the first should be understanding the situation in this more nuanced way. To that end, I think I’m going to do my bit to help your post here go viral. It could be great required reading for the April 20 events my young nephew has written to me about with so much energy and excitement.

    Good job on this one buddy…. and hope you’re doing well otherwise.

    Comment by Betsy — March 9, 2012 @ 11:51 am

  45. It still remains a puzzle for any Ugandan to conclude on the reality of the existence of this “kony” thing. Some have now made it political and all such, but the fact remains that the LRA has reduced to ‘A gang of thugs’ carrying out thuggery just for survival. However, given that they once specialised in Looting, Killing and all that kind of activities, they cannot avoid but have to do them in disguise.

    Comment by Onderi — March 9, 2012 @ 1:22 pm

  46. Catherine…with all due respect, as a person who has dedicated his life to fighting for human rights and human security, it is not a good idea to “live with some misguided efforts and try to find strategic ways to ride the coattails of the attention.”

    There have been way too many “misguided efforts” that have ended in disastrous results; especially in respect to various crises in Africa.

    In March 2002, the Ugandan government began Operation Iron Fist, a military offensive against the LRA. Some argue that this was in response to western pressure to address the LRA. Museveni (himself a rebel leader who overthrew his government) sees himself as a military commander first and a national leader second. His military forces and Operation Iron Fist resulted in the largest intensification of attacks on civilian communities, increased abductions, forced recruitment and massacres. It led to a doubling of abducted young people. It also led to an unprecedented surge in the displacement of northern Ugandans. Museveni’s own forces were responsible for many of the atrocities. The call to action to eliminate Kony strengthened Museveni’s quasi dictatorial grip on Uganda. many people don’t realize that Museveni was at the same time arming and funding the SPLA in Sudan as a proxy war against Sudan, and Sudan gave safe haven to the LRA as a proxy war against Uganda.

    The misguided efforts in this case resulted in enormous hardship and suffering and did little to bring Kony to justice. It merely strengthened him.

    Ask the Acholi people themselves, and they will tell you that they want to have a peaceful resolution to the Kony issue. The problem is, peaceful measures take time and effort. What IC advocates for (a military response) is naive and undoubtedly harmful. Keep in mind that if the LRA is full of abducted children who are forced to fight for Kony, who do you think the military will be killing when they chase Kony? It happened before! The Ugandan forces would count killed LRA as military kills, even though the majority of those killed were the abducted children themselves!

    When we finally managed to get Kony to come to the negotiation table, Museveni’s generals and Museveni himself ruined the peace talks by doing nothing more than inciting Kony with militaristic talk. Kony never came back to the table again.

    Don’t mistake what the “advocacy community” is doing in response to IC as scolding…it is rather trying instead to hold ourselves accountable. When we call for public action, we have to be certain that what we are asking for will have positive results, and not inadvertent harm. Those of us in the advocacy community who spend time listening to the community we are working with end up putting forth calls to action that are actually in line with what the community itself wants. Real advocacy work is designed to elicit an end result that will help, not harm. What IC is doing raises attention, but it will not necessarily result in helping the situation. if anything, it builds false expectations that following IC’s lead will result in the arrest of Kony, and once it is shown that it will not, many people will turn their attention to the next “cause.”

    The trade off? Be broad and deep. Educate everyday people with a more in depth background and arm them with more well thought out actions. This is what will build the foundation of a true social movement, rather than a cause of the day. So-called professionals and every day citizens can work together to do this.

    Comment by mateo — March 9, 2012 @ 1:54 pm

  47. […] by chris on Mar.09, 2012, under general So the Kony 2012 campaign – and the backlash against it – has been eating up the Internet for the last 48 hours. If you somehow missed it, read Ethan Zuckerman’s primer here. […]

    Pingback by Kony 2012 reminds me of Loose Change - Chris Peterson — March 9, 2012 @ 2:11 pm

  48. This is a great piece, and a piece I would have never read without having watched the Kony video. There are certainly going to be people who only watch the video, just like there are people who only watch network news. The more accessible your content, the less complex it is. If you want your message to reach the whole of Facebook–which is clearly the mission behind Invisible Children’s production–you have to employ KISS. Keep It Simple Stupid. Honestly, I think given the ambition of this video of reaching millions of short-attention span youth, producing a 30-minute video about their subject is actually quite in-depth. How long would the network news give this subject? In fact, the news media is still giving the subject of Kony little attention, focussed instead on the meta subject of Invisible Children’s controversial finances and tactics.

    All of this debate reminds me a bit of the early days of Wikipedia, where experts criticized it for not being written by experts. Even before reading extensively about the problems with IC’s video, it was clear to me from the production that Russell was in his heart a filmmaker who got caught up in something bigger. I want filmmakers to bring their gifts to important subjects without expecting them to be policy wonks. In the Wikipedia world, everyone is a publisher to the world, and to limit publishing to the experts is to lock out the huge potential that we collectively can bring. No one would argue that the Facebook and Twitter posts of individual Egyptians during the Arab Spring uprisings were narrow and simplistic. Indeed the power was the collective voice.

    As I said in the beginning, I am happy for this post because it adds to a wonderful, deep conversation about an important subject that has been largely invisible. What I do not like is the treatment of Invisible Children’s video as a problem. That video, like the Tea Party movement and the Occupy movement, has altered the course of our nation’s conversation for the better.

    Comment by Adrian Harris Crowne — March 9, 2012 @ 2:21 pm

  49. What all of you oh-so-smart journalists are missing is that millions of teenagers, completely impervious to news & current affairs stories, have suddenly become energised and had the profound realisation that they can do something to affect the world stage. A democratic army has woken up and said we’re ready to engage and within days their media streams are full of messages like yours saying ‘oh, no. Don’t engage. See, you’re not smart enough and knowledgable enough (like us) to engage, so just sit back down and forget about expressing your own voices.

    The alternative could have been that you wrote ‘yes, go for it young people. Have a go, see what happens and learn from it. Then learn about the issues by your own expanding experience and grow to other issues.’

    I think a population of the future like that, who began with doing something about this one small, messy issue, is a population we could well do with in that more complicated messier future. Their own government structures spend enough time making them think they’re not good enough to change anything without aloof intellectuals pulling the rug from beneath their feet just as they awake to possibilty.

    Comment by James — March 9, 2012 @ 2:46 pm

  50. In response to the question “what can we do”:

    1. Notice

    2. Be amazed

    3. Tell others

    4. Renounce the hero complex

    5. Learn from the local response, particularly the popularity of amnesty. From a Ugandan perspective, what does the offer of amnesty serve? Should can we incorporate concepts of amnesty into Western lifestyles and justice systems?

    6. Listen to what people in the former conflict zone want, to stabilize the country. (I have heard things from “support for new Ugandan courts” to “water, seeds and gardening tools for folks returning to their villages from refugee camps.”)

    7. Support domestic Ugandan organizations and relief efforts. This could be through volunteer work, infrastructure support, or financial contributions.

    8. Keep listening. Keep paying attention. Keep being amazed.

    Just my belief.

    Comment by Maisha — March 9, 2012 @ 2:55 pm

  51. Official response to criticisms from Invisible Children: http://s3.amazonaws.com/www.invisiblechildren.com/critiques.html

    Comment by Mel — March 9, 2012 @ 3:44 pm

  52. I think Nina Mollerup and James above voiced it perfectly. I am seeing all these posts about “more worthy” charities and NGOs in Central Africa but don’t you get it there would not even be any eyes on those names or click throughs on those links if IC didn’t change the game in this way. You didn’t “unpack” anything in here but really just went over tired old elitist (oh yes, I said it) arguments which say this is too complicated an issue for your little minds if you were drawn in by this slick video. Let’s face it these IC folks have done something none of the “internet experts” or media masters have ever been able to do which is to get 50 million people and counting to care about something serious. I am pretty sure donations to almost every NGO in Central Africa is gettina a bump from this as nasayers and hipsters look for alternatives to IC. Say “thank you” folks. And, by the way IC NEVER claimed as thier principal goal on the ground infrastructure building. They were always filmakers and always motivated by the goal of bringing this to international attention. So they spend lots of thier money educating young people not just about the evils of Joseph Kony but about caring at all. And, for that we should all be grateful.

    Comment by Nancy — March 9, 2012 @ 3:59 pm

  53. […] 2012, Global Voices, All Africa’s Uganda: Tweeters Oppose Invisible Children Campaign, Ethan Zuckerman, and The Guardian‘s timelined coverage of the controversy yesterday. The Ugandan […]

    Pingback by Understanding #Kony2012 as #Video4Change : Video For Change — March 9, 2012 @ 4:01 pm

  54. Maisha…well said!

    Also, recognize the successes and efforts of those, who organizations like IC forget to give credit to: Betty Bigombe, Rwot David Acana, Angelina Atyam, HURIFO, Oxfam, the Women’s Refugee Commission, and a whole host of local and international NGOs who have been working tirelessly in the background to achieve amazing things. IC on CNN last night appeared to take most of the credit themselves for US action! What a slap in the face to all the other people who have worked without any desire for credit.

    IC has accomplished 1, 2, 3 and 8 (kudos to them, it was needed)…but have much to learn about how to do 4, 5, 6 and 7. Rather than pointing potential activists to the IC website to buy IC messaging kits, instead point them to the amazing individuals I listed above! If IC had done that, then they would deserve real praise. Then the potential activists would be directed towards advocacy that works.

    Comment by mateo — March 9, 2012 @ 4:36 pm

  55. […] Here are the second, third, and fourth links: http://www.ethanzuckerman.com/blog/2012/03/08/unpacking-kony-2012/ […]

    Pingback by Joseph Kony Links « Jsa08′s Blog — March 9, 2012 @ 4:41 pm

  56. By the way..James with all due respect, no one is telling teenagers that they can not do anything or that they are not smart enough to engage. This is not what the critique of IC is about. You are missing the bigger picture.

    The critique is not of the teenagers who could become involved, it is about the shallowness of IC’s call to action. If you are going to mobilize millions of youth, offer them real opportunity to engage (bracelets and posters are fine, but ultimately do not lead to real action). In other words, treat them intelligently, for they are intelligent individuals. Respect them enough to not just get them motivated, but to offer them actions that can truly help (or better yet, ask them what they think we can do and help them turn those ideas into action). To begin with, how about connecting them to the dozens of youth-led organizations in northern Uganda? Peer-to-peer efforts; not “pay for our kits so that we can make more films.”

    Comment by mateo — March 9, 2012 @ 4:47 pm

  57. Ethan, this is indeed a profound question:

    “I’m starting to wonder if this is a fundamental limit to attention-based advocacy. If we need simple narratives so people can amplify and spread them, are we forced to engage only with the simplest of problems? Or to propose only the simplest of solutions? … If we want people to pay attention to the issues we care about, do we need to oversimplify them? And if we do, do our simplistic framings do more unintentional harm than intentional good?”

    But maybe I’m misreading the tone of your post, as it has a very crisis-of-belief flavor to it. There’s nothing wrong with Kony as an example, but this sort of oversimplification in politics is generic. There’s plenty of examples very close to home, where e.g. the whole the social-media/start-up world went nuts over SOPA, getting into a lather over a very overblown narrative of the evil enemies of the Net destroying sites over single infringing link. Or Net Neutrality just before that, where relatively minor network management issues were treated as essentially literal conspiracies. There are good policy reasons to oppose SOPA/favor NN, but those aren’t amendable to popular campaigns. Why expect Ugandan politics to have more of a “complex and nuanced response” than US politics (e.g “death panels!”).

    Is it just that this topic is near and dear to you, from your experience in Africa? Again, that’s fine, we all have our personal touchstones. But it seems little late to be discovering that the Internet is really good at spreading appealing stories without regard to truth, and manipulators with money can exploit this for their agendas.

    Comment by Seth Finkelstein — March 9, 2012 @ 5:02 pm

  58. Thanks Ethan for unpacking this.
    small note: the link to IC’s answer to critique is broken. this one:
    (Invisible Children reacts to some of these criticism in this blog post.)
    Emer

    Comment by Emer — March 9, 2012 @ 5:51 pm

  59. I am a little ashamed that I had never read your blog before this issue arose in the media. Thank you for a perspective full of integrity and context… and I’m going to bookmark your archive for further reading.

    Comment by Margaret — March 9, 2012 @ 6:00 pm

  60. […] successful in attracting attention online and the limits to the methods used by Invisible Children.Via http://www.ethanzuckerman.com Like this:LikeBe the first to like this post. Posted in […]

    Pingback by Unpacking Kony 2012 | EthanZ’s My heart’s in Accra « Jose Murilo’s Weblog — March 9, 2012 @ 6:20 pm

  61. It was in a recent conversation about Facebook that I had with a 9th grader who I was driving to school when I learned about this viral video about Kony. She let me know that “everyone is talking about it,” meaning that her Facebook friends, most of whom are her age, were spreading it around through Facebook and were very disturbed by what they were seeing and hearing. At that time, and this was just two days ago, I hadn’t heard about it, which I guess speaks more to the friends I have on Facebook and on Twitter. And it was before any news organization — that I’d seen — had started writing about it. Now, in the hindsight of just two days, as I’ve read a lot about how this video went viral, a part of me has to agree with some of those who’ve already commented that until emotions were tugged, this story — one I’d known through much past reporting on these atrocities — was not even on the radar screen of most Americans. And now Oyston’s post is getting viral action, too, so the topic is being engaged. All of this does take us to these very tough crossroads (of simplicity vs. accuracy, of emotion vs. fact) that you write about so well in this post, Ethan. I want to thank you once again for educating me not only on the political situation but how this plays into today’s media ecosystem. Grateful for your post and for the terrific dialogue it has elicited.

    Comment by Melissa Ludtke — March 9, 2012 @ 6:39 pm

  62. […] Zuckerman wrote Unpacking Kony2012 one of the best commentaries to the #Kony2012 phenomenon. A freedom of expression advocate and […]

    Pingback by #Kony2012 and the white man’s burden | ScottishRepublic.eu — March 9, 2012 @ 6:39 pm

  63. […] danger here is best articulated by Ethan Zuckerman who wonders if the fundamental shortcoming of the Invisible Children approach is that it “forces [us] to […]

    Pingback by KONY 2012, Beyond the Buzz | The Future Forum — March 9, 2012 @ 7:22 pm

  64. […] Ethan Zuckerman: Unpacking Kony 2012 […]

    Pingback by Weekend reading list, STOP KONY edition « juliacsmith — March 9, 2012 @ 7:44 pm

  65. Ethan, please contact the people at IC and suggest to them that they work with more people that are, as you put it, “pushing back.” If you do not have a direct contact, then email me at joshuagay@gmail.com and I’ll try to get you a connection.

    I think you could probably give them a lot of suggestions on the types of people they might reach out to so that they can have an infrastructure that makes it easy to collaborate and share ideas with others.

    On a different note, one thing that bothers me is the framing of the communication that is going on. And, I don’t mean to target you in particular. But, people have a tendency to talk about this as being “the media”, and reference it as a “story” that we are watching. This makes it sound like entertainment, and we are all passive observers. I think such framing actively makes it harder for an individual or a group like IC to view others as collaborators and to embrace individuals who are providing critical feedback to the narrative they have shared with the world.

    Comment by Joshua Gay — March 9, 2012 @ 8:40 pm

  66. […] The video has been met with strong backlash. Writers have criticized it for exaggeration, soft bigotry and hypocrisy, Reuters columnist Jack Shafer points out. And MIT’s Ethan Zuckerman has deconstructed the whole phenomenon.  […]

    Pingback by Local Kids Fight African Warlord Kony – voiceofsandiego.org: This Just In: The Latest News, Features And Investigative Reporting From Voiceofsandiego.org | Buzz.100wizard.com — March 9, 2012 @ 10:07 pm

  67. […] I am linking this exceptional post by Ethan Zuckerman that has the best and most fair to all parties understanding of this issue I’ve seen yet. […]

    Pingback by Updated: Follow up on Kony 2012, Invisible Children and the power of lies. | The Bat Country Word — March 9, 2012 @ 11:35 pm

  68. […] support to the anti-LRA operation appears to hold up. With that said, Ethan Zuckerman is spot-on, describing the ways in which #KONY2012 “plays into existing narratives about the ungovernability of Africa, the power of US […]

    Pingback by constructive criticism, productive advocacy, and #kony2012 « Securing Rights — March 9, 2012 @ 11:49 pm

  69. To deliberately oversimplify, the moral of the story is this: a good human story that connects with people will get you more action than an intellectual discussion of issues and events. Kony2012 IS the story-telling of the times. This IS how advocacy will now now be played. This IS how the world will now engage itself. Your input — which has an intellectual take — has now taken its role as part of the fine-tuning, redirecting and recalibrating of such new rules of individual and global engagement for catalytic change.

    Comment by Sue — March 10, 2012 @ 1:01 am

  70. hi erin,

    just wanted to point out that not everyone who’s responding to the campaign is a bleeding heart white, American liberal. otherwise, i agree with your question; i have been asking the same question in response to the not-so-constructive criticisms “what then do we do?”

    sincerely,
    a bleeding heart american-born asian who won’t-even-label-herself-as-an-independent.

    Comment by sara choe — March 10, 2012 @ 1:05 am

  71. ” Or is the wave of pushback against this campaign from Invisible Children evidence that we’re learning to read and write complex narratives online, and that a college student with doubts about a campaign’s value and validity can find an audience? Will Invisible Children’s campaign continue unchanged, or will it engage with critics and design a more complex and nuanced response.”
    THAT is my question…

    Comment by jae king — March 10, 2012 @ 1:22 am

  72. I find this post overly critical. The Kony 2012 video serves as rapid education for a largely uneducated public on an important global human rights issue. I like the fact that the organization spends money on advocacy and filmmaking; that is a more intelligent approach than sending direct aid. We already know that direct aid is not sustainable- we must teach people to fish and not only give them fish. I also agree that IC has oversimplified the issue. But, most of all I thank them for calling attention to an important issue. The educational value of the video alone, while it oversimplifies the issue, is worth their annual budget. It’s not all about the money.

    Comment by Nick Ware — March 10, 2012 @ 1:36 am

  73. Raising awareness of an issue that’s not really an issue any longer, demanding action that’s already being taken, not involving those it directly affects or contributing a significant amount of funds to those they were raised for isn’t called naivety or simplicity, it’s called profiteering.

    I know that many would like to believe that Invisible Children are doing good work, that by raising awareness of some issue (real or not, relevant or not, oversimplified or not) somehow raises awareness of similar issues on the whole.

    The sad fact is that what Invisible Children serves to mostly accomplish is gaining respect & praise for its founders, fundraising & patting themselves on the back. Further, their success does little or nothing to raise awareness of other issues. What it does succeed at doing is inspiring more entities like itself who do little but profit off of the suffering of the very people they claim to be raising support/awareness for and the emotions of those to whom they appeal. Meanwhile, such marketing floods out the messages of other legitimate organizations doing difficult and important work, as well as potentially siphoning donations that others may have received instead.

    Additionally, circumstances as exist with Invisible Children – where the situation isn’t as presented and the actions proposed have already been taken or are underway or where such profiteering is exposed – the effect is not to raise awareness but to harden the public against such emotional appeals, to lessen the overall willingness of the public to pay attention to similar issues, to believe any information provided, to seek further information, or to contribute or lend support.

    Comment by kelly craven — March 10, 2012 @ 1:51 am

  74. Thanks for your post.

    This dilemma between oversimplifying vs inefficient communication is only going to get worst.

    I think we should accept that simple campaigns are the most effective. That has always been like that, and won’t change because that’s the way our mind is. We cannot process very fast a lot of information.

    But we may decide where to put the effort on. As you said the situation in Syria is far more urgent now.

    The only solution I can see is that an organization tempting to oversimplify for a wrong reason should consider the risk of receiving backfire when more aware people address tell them they are wrong. Of course, we get the problem about what’s wrong. But anyway we should keep watching each other.

    The challenge is that I have the feeling that traditional ways used by mass media for gaining attention, are being used more effectively in the social media world. Have you seen the first spot of Obama new campaign? A friend called it guerrilla cinema. It’s very good and people are learning to that. To do something that looks real, grounded, and people can decide to share themselves. This is becoming domesticated. We knew this was going to happen, as happen with the cinema, the tv, the radio, and even the writing!

    So, people who want this to be used well need to gather together and be aware of what’s going in the right direction, besides using this themselves for the right things.

    The origin of problem is that this organization seems to be rather isolated for other ones in the field. We should try to create networks that lower the level of stupidity.

    The world is changing very fast.

    Comment by Hector Palacios — March 10, 2012 @ 4:32 am

  75. Lot’s of analogues with mainstream democracy and the success of narrative vs the difficulty of communicating complexity to a general population.

    I have often mulled that it is quite ironic that religions are subject to their own evolutionary pressures (i.e. a religion must have embedded in it’s DNA the traits which will enhance the likely hood of perpetuation (for example encourage evangelism, discourage contraception, make the family strong etc).

    And so it is with the Kony campaign plea for advocacy- I certainly think it is somewhat economical with the truth. However do the ends justify the means?

    I think it’s quite right for us to analyse the Kony campaign. We are quickly eating through the available resources on the planet with no corresponding replenishment there will probably be an escalation in related conflicts over the next 30 years.It is surely best to equip ourselves with a culture of criticism rather than a culture of stories.

    Comment by J Major — March 10, 2012 @ 6:36 am

  76. A bit strange that only Pancho Guillen mentions the billions of barrels of oil reserves found (recently?) in Ugnda. Ethan does not mention the oil, either. The New Your Times, on the other hand, mentioned it in November: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/26/world/africa/uganda-welcomes-oil-but-fears-graft-it-attracts.html

    Comment by mikaelbook — March 10, 2012 @ 6:50 am

  77. […] # Unpacking Kony 2012 […]

    Pingback by Kony 2012 oder die erste Online-Treibjagd auf einen Verbrecher — March 10, 2012 @ 7:12 am

  78. […] Solomon, Constructive criticism, productive advocacy, and #kony2012 (March 9) Ethan Zuckerman, Unpacking Kony2012 (March 8) Max Fisher, The Soft Bigotry of Kony 2012 (March 8) Kate Cronin-Furman and Amanda Taub, […]

    Pingback by My favorite articles on Kony2012 | Sarah Kendzior — March 10, 2012 @ 11:39 am

  79. […] assumptions behind it have been subjected to searching criticism by scholars like Ethan Zuckerman, who have challenged its simplistic analysis of a complex country and its ideological biases – for example its implicit assumption that Africans are hopeless and that the only solutions to […]

    Pingback by After Kony, could a viral video change the world? | Presstitution - Exposing Media Malpractice! — March 10, 2012 @ 12:51 pm

  80. I definitely think the dialogue opened up by Invisible Children about the LRA, international development, and the ICC has been great. Kony 2012 has definitely caused some controversy, but taking a critical look at aid and development is very important. I am an employee for a NGO based in Uganda called BeadforLife. Kony 2012 is all about the people BeadforLife is directly serving in Nothern Uganda – over 5600 people in over 700 households. If you want to help people directly affected by the atrocities of the LRA in their rebuilding process, BeadforLife is a great organization to work with. We work with women who create beaded jewelry out of recycled paper, and harvest Shea nuts for soap, lip balm, and body butter. Host a free BeadParty to help introduce the products and the women to your community, and help women in Ugandan lift themselves and their families out of poverty. Learn more at http://beadforlife.org/beadparty.html

    Comment by chris — March 10, 2012 @ 1:30 pm

  81. […] Morozov who is smart and cynical (doesn’t hurt that he’s Eastern European) who linked to this post  about Kony/Invisible Children videos/ more broadly, the trend/need for simplifying/simplistic […]

    Pingback by Everyone’s the same « design gutter — March 10, 2012 @ 2:02 pm

  82. […] assumptions behind it have been subjected to searching criticism by scholars like Ethan Zuckerman, who have challenged its simplistic analysis of a complex country and its ideological biases – for example its implicit assumption that Africans are hopeless and that the only solutions to […]

    Pingback by After Kony, could a viral video change the world? « Breaking News | Latest News | Current News — March 10, 2012 @ 2:11 pm

  83. […] and promote thoughtful, informed dialogue on complicated issues like this one. Ethan has a great roundup of links from various African voices. And Global Voices contributor Rebekah Heacock has an extensive post here, which gathers opinions […]

    Pingback by Africans respond to Kony 2012 « Hummus For Thought — March 10, 2012 @ 2:53 pm

  84. […] Unpacking Kony 2012 […]

    Pingback by Linksies 3/10/12 | Hindtrospectives — March 10, 2012 @ 2:56 pm

  85. […] and a assumptions behind it have been subjected to acid critique by scholars like Ethan Zuckerman, who have challenged a uncomplicated research of a formidable nation and a ideological biases – for instance a substantial arrogance that Africans are destroyed and that a usually solutions […]

    Pingback by After Kony, could a viral video change the world? | Times of News — March 10, 2012 @ 3:01 pm

  86. […] “It is no longer clear that the LRA represents a major threat to stability in the region.” (source) […]

    Pingback by KONY2012 « Theory of The Phil — March 10, 2012 @ 3:20 pm

  87. […] Zuckerman’s essay Unpacking Kony offers a comprehensive critique of the campaign. “I think they genuinely believe that the […]

    Pingback by OhDearism: Kony 2012 | OhDearism — March 10, 2012 @ 4:03 pm

  88. Ethan with all due respect when you can’t get figures right due to lack of due diligence in the 2nd paragraph of your novel – how can I trust the rest of the numbers you provide.

    You need to click twice on YouTube stats then your get the full breakdown of how 67,106,844 people have now watched the video. On Thursday they were were over 50 million.

    The fascinating thing for me is the spread across the world this video has attracted. This really is now a global campaign.

    Comment by Graham John Bell — March 10, 2012 @ 6:16 pm

  89. […] schreibt der Harvard Researcher Ethan Zuckerman: The Kony story resonates because it’s the story of an identifible individual doing bodily harm to […]

    Pingback by Joseph Kony, Superstar | melaniemanner — March 10, 2012 @ 7:15 pm

  90. […] Sunday, which has around a 700 word limit. KONY 2012′s generated a lot of attention. For me, Ethan Zuckerman’s excellent analysis and subsequent commentary raises the most pertinent questions. The following are some other […]

    Pingback by KONY 2012 and Sri Lanka’s Killing Fields | ICT for Peacebuilding (ICT4Peace) — March 10, 2012 @ 7:33 pm

  91. Why are people even wasting time trying to get Kony. It annoys me that people just blindly follow what the video is trying to get people to do. My reasons why this is a waste of time.

    #1. First off, your not gonna find a man hiding in the jungles of Africa, good luck
    #2. It won’t matter if send in troops, the moment we leave, they’ll just come running back in full force and take over the country again. Ex 1993-94 U.S entering Somalia. Outcome? It failed.
    #3. You will NEVER SOLVE the problem, it doesn’t matter what you do. Like I said in #2, the moment we leave they’ll just come running back
    #4. Other countries in Africa do the same thing, should we spend money to help them and send in troops/advisers as well?
    #5. We have issues of our own in the country like the U.S still recovering from the recession, lets fix that before we fix another country, honestly makes no sense as to why WE must fix THAT countries issues before fixing our own.. Just mind boggling

    Comment by D0me — March 10, 2012 @ 7:47 pm

  92. […] schreibt der Harvard Researcher Ethan Zuckerman: The Kony story resonates because it’s the story of an identifible individual doing bodily harm to […]

    Pingback by Joseph Kony, Superstar « melaniemanner — March 10, 2012 @ 8:20 pm

  93. I’m grateful that Kony 2012 was made so that I now have the opportunity to read your post, Ethan.

    I hope you’re wrong about the film doing more harm than good. I hope people move past this first level of engagement to deeper study and understanding of what’s happening on the ground.

    Comment by Jay Collier — March 10, 2012 @ 9:42 pm

  94. This campaign is war propaganda. Uganda has been called the next Saudi Arabia in terms of oil. This is the same movie we keep seeing over and over again. Chase bad man, bomb his country, take their oil. “What CAN we do?” Demand that your president not go to war without the approval of the people and their Congress. Support the rights of american children who can now be assassinated within or beyond the border’s of the US–like the 16 year old boy from Denver, CO who was targeted and killed by the administration. If the president does not need the people (their legislature) to make war and it does not need the courts to determine who can be executed at their hand, then we live in Uganda too. Our children also need saving.

    Comment by aaron — March 10, 2012 @ 10:52 pm

  95. […] the Invisible children rebuttal (this is linked below): “By this morning (March 8, 2012), the criticisms of Invisible Children’s efforts to bring LRA leader Joseph Kony to justice were mounting. Lack of […]

    Pingback by MAKE KONY FAMOUS – A Social Movement That Went Viral In Just a Few Days « Sarah E. Barbee — March 10, 2012 @ 11:14 pm

  96. […] situation in Uganda.  First of all, Joseph Kony, the war criminal they want to bring to justice, isn’t based in Uganda anymore, and is far less of a threat than he once was.  The list goes […]

    Pingback by 5 Lessons from Kony 2012 | The Meta-Activism Project — March 10, 2012 @ 11:19 pm

  97. […] assumptions behind it have been subjected to searching criticism by scholars like Ethan Zuckerman, who have challenged its simplistic analysis of a complex country and its ideological biases – for example its implicit assumption that Africans are hopeless and that the only solutions to […]

    Pingback by After Kony, could a viral video change the world? | The Solar Panel Trust — March 11, 2012 @ 12:05 am

  98. […] commentator, Ethan Zuckerman explains the major problem of the campaign’s […]

    Pingback by Irresponsibility 2012 – My Problems with Kony | Strange Attractors — March 11, 2012 @ 12:31 am

  99. […] Unpacking Kony 2012 – A complete look at the Kony video and social media impact of Invisible Children. […]

    Pingback by Interesting Links, March 10, 2012 | An Eclectic Mind — March 11, 2012 @ 2:30 am

  100. I have my own take on this — the smart folks in the international justice movement are terribly jealous of the enormous play this Kony2012 campaign got in ways they could never have managed with their own access to the liberal media and establishment and even their high mindshare with large numbers of Twitter followers. And that’s a large part of it. Oh, I get all the things wrong with the simplification of the story — I’ve been raising the issue of the LRA for 15 years at the UN and I totally get how it works. But simplistic of not, this campaign got primarily teens on Tumblr and Facebook to think about one of the world’s bad actors and what might be done about him, and that can’t be all bad.

    I reject this narrative that the campaign constitutes a “theory of change” or even a “bad” theory of change. The notion that the LRA might finally come in from the bush with offers of an amnesty that would avoid them killing any of their child recruits seems dubious at best. Any kind of commando raid also seems fraught with things going awfully awry. But what’s wrong with a campaign that lets the world’s “culture makers” and “political decision makers” (even Stephen Harper!) know that people really, really care and they should try to find a way? It’s like Syria — or anything else.

    What’s wrong with a “narrative” about “ungovernability” in Africa, Ethan? There are parts that are really not governed and where people really suffer tremendously. Why can’t we say that? Can we never say that because we are white? Could we never care about our fellow human beings in ungoverned places in Africa on this basis?! I reject that notion, totally, and won’t be stampeded into political correctness.

    Remember when they couldn’t ever seem to capture Karadzic? And he was in a place more accessible than the African bush. When those kinds of things happen, it’s because the players don’t want it to happen. Governments back figures like that, warlords, opportunistic corrupt people. And perhaps it takes a massive wave of outpouring from children on social media to change the chemistry.

    As for the idea that we can only “empower” local actors blah blah — look, we’re in an interconnected world. “Africa for Africans” is a mantra most often wielded by corrupt and abusive governments. Obama sent 100 advisors there because lots of people wanted something done about this awfulness. Just because it’s awfulness that may be dwindling and may be on it’s last legs doesn’t mean it doesn’t merit a world campaign. And guess what — this is one time the justice elites just didn’t get to say yay or nay, and everybody stepped right over their own incompetence, indifference, and horrid selectivity in choosing some causes over others. Good!

    I’m more worried about the larger aspect to this story that has to do with the “Facebook Nation” stuff that Zuckerberg started peddling a few years ago when he warbled at SWSX to Sarah Lacey about how FB sharing was going to put the FARC on the run in Colombia (!) or prevent young Arab men from becoming terrorists (!!). Only connect, and all will be well, is his betterworld concept.

    I’m not worried only about “simple narratives that cause damages,” I’m worried about a world that has 38 million views (and their likes and shares and chats) on a video, but only 1 million views on the obvious criticism of the cause. That’s not a good coefficient for a liberal democracy; that’s not enough of a corrective as you imply. But then, that’s not what’s being built on Facebook — a liberal democracy with checks and balances.

    http://3dblogger.typepad.com/wired_state/2012/03/many-kony2012-isnt-such-a-bad-thing-but-ill-tell-you-what-you-do-have-to-worry-about-facebook-nation.html

    Comment by Catherine Fitzpatrick — March 11, 2012 @ 3:21 am

  101. […] Ethanzuckerman.com – Unpacking Kony 2012 [Etchan Zuckerman analysiert die Absichten von Invisible Child und die Probleme dabei] […]

    Pingback by Kony 2012 – Spreading in a new dimension « matthiasjax.at | doing things — March 11, 2012 @ 6:20 am

  102. To simplify or not to simplify is not a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ question. It is more about different stages of bringing people’s attention to people’s life in Northern Uganda. Oversimplification has successfully helped Invisible Children to go viral. Now it is time to force supporters to think through this the Kony issue in a more sophisticated way.

    Comment by Shinmin — March 11, 2012 @ 6:34 am

  103. Let’s act like humans and stop KONY. Help us stop him, use the following link: http://on.fb.me/yFkSqy

    Comment by Corleone — March 11, 2012 @ 8:15 am

  104. […] behind the campaign and also questioned the goals advanced by IC (Ethan Zuckerman’s extended summary). Some of these criticisms miss the point entirely, while others should lead to a broader public […]

    Pingback by Kony 2012: what solutions do the critics propose? — March 11, 2012 @ 10:51 am

  105. This piece was posted early Thursday morning. The video continued to gain viewership during the day, and has subsequently continued to gain viewership. The figures I cite were correct when I posted them.

    Comment by Ethan — March 11, 2012 @ 11:03 am

  106. […] get stuck explaining why I believe this campaign is misinformed and potentially dangerous, because others have articulated this much more coherently than I ever […]

    Pingback by Kony2012, narratives, and a disclaimer for this blog | Two Rivers Meets Two Oceans — March 11, 2012 @ 11:09 am

  107. “A more complex narrative” would continue to confound the world into doing nothing. Attention-based advocacy IS a place to start.

    Comment by Justin — March 11, 2012 @ 11:52 am

  108. […] been been blogging about Africa for more than 10 years, wrote a brilliant post about tthe subject, Unpacking Kony, which I'll be quoting from lierally from in this post, but what I found interesting was this […]

    Pingback by On the Kony Campaign | chrisadams.me.uk — March 11, 2012 @ 11:59 am

  109. Does Kony2012 signal a disruption for NGO’s gatekeeper role? After raising awareness, we can now research what’s happening directly. Are jealous NGOs one of the constituencies fighting this campaign, as Catherine Fitzpatrick suggested above?

    Comment by Jay Collier — March 11, 2012 @ 1:05 pm

  110. Mateo, please answer me this: what should the average out of touch white westerner do? If your answer is “nothing” then that’s fine. Just say so. If we’re better off NOT having wide awareness and calls to action, that’s a perfectly legitimate position. But if that’s the case, i don’t want to hear holier than thou activists denigrating people for being out of touch when they aren’t paying attention.

    Because that’s what really bothers me, the implicit insult that westerners are both willfully ignorant and too stupid to participate when they want to get engaged. This is a moment to take advantage of the attention (“ride the coattails”) to get people to take positive action. Don’t waste it by calling them dumb.

    Comment by Catherine — March 11, 2012 @ 2:02 pm

  111. Good points, Catherine.

    Comment by Jay Collier — March 11, 2012 @ 7:25 pm

  112. […] auch internationale Massenmedien erreicht – nicht zuletzt, weil Film und Initiative derzeit stark kritisiert werden. Es geht, knapp gesagt, z.B. um die manipulative, US-zentrische Machart des Films, die […]

    Pingback by Kony 2012 « the ambassador — March 11, 2012 @ 7:50 pm

  113. Well, I´m a bit late here to comment ;-) Maybe because I´m a communications guy I see the sheer success and spread of the message as much more important than it´s mostly justified critique. Just two things: In order to be successful, campaign media HAVE TO oversimplify things to offer an emotional entry point for people to pay attention in the first place. Everything else is a damn documentary, not campaigning. IC offers a lot of in-depth information back on their website, where everyone can dig deeper (and yes, now they´ve been forced to make their spendings transparent and face criticism openly!). And secondly, we should never compare one issue against the other – yes, I wish someone would make this video for the people in Syria. But it a 40.000 kids enslaving devil a less worse cause? What means Syria opposed to the threat of climate change? This really leads to nothing, I think.

    Comment by Daniel Kruse — March 11, 2012 @ 8:24 pm

  114. […] “It is no longer clear that the LRA represents a major threat to stability in the region.” (source) […]

    Pingback by Kony2012 Video and Critical thinking. | MYP @ Global Jaya International School — March 11, 2012 @ 8:40 pm

  115. […] Ethan Zuckerman, executive of a Center for Civic Media during M.I.T. asked questions on his blog about either Mr. Russell’s proceed to facilitate a story about Mr. Kony could make […]

    Pingback by The Lede Blog: How the Kony Video Went Viral | World News Portal — March 11, 2012 @ 9:08 pm

  116. […] That would be ideal – but it’s not like they can treat the approach as a template. Global Voices co-founder Ethan Zuckerman says it well: The Kony story resonates because it’s the story of an identifible individual doing bodily […]

    Pingback by Cartoon: Snarktivism - Plidd Technology | Plidd Technology — March 11, 2012 @ 10:02 pm

  117. Folks, the bottom line is that Kony will be stopped; and that’s all that IC wanted to do. I received the video from my 34 year old daughter who stays connected with her friends through social media. My first reaction was how cool, somebody has actually developed a disciplined and effective campaign to mobilize people to do the “right thing” re: Kony. My very next move was to research the facts in depth before deciding what was the “right thing” for me to do as an individual. And that’s what really all that IC wanted to accomplish; to mobilize action among individuals and institutions (especially the US Government) expecting that they would inform themselves before taking precipitate action. I’ve now reviewed the Resolve report http://www.theresolve.org/peace-can-be–3, (have you? – Good!)and consider the action that has been taken and being proposed both appropriate and necessary. Obviously IC is a victim of its own success over the past years, and their original appeal has been overtaken by the very events they stimulated. But the simple fact is that Obama has taken and planned appropriate action and the video will make it impossible for the US not to set the benchmarks by which progess will be measured. The immediate danger IC saw was election year politics derailing the implementation of the regional planning and access needed to stop Kony from returning like the Taliban did in Afghanistan when Cheney took Bush’s eye off the ball. By NOT specifying the “ask”, they enabled and trusted people to do what they could. The circumstances are so complex and dynamic that any specific “ask” would have been paralyzed by differing opinions of what to do – the very discussion going on here. IC’s real brilliance stemmed from knowing what Saul Alinsky knew; don’t ask your people to do anything that’s outside their experience. All people had to do was forward the video, and eventully it would raise the awareness of the right people. Let it be and learn.

    Comment by John Moore — March 11, 2012 @ 10:36 pm

  118. Catherine…I never called anyone dumb! Please don’t put words in my mouth. And please don’t throw names like “holier than thou activists.” My comments never used personal attacks.

    Wide awareness is a good goal. “Westerners” are not too stupid. No one is jealous of IC.

    All that is being asked is that IC think about what they are specifically asking for in their call-to-action. On whom and where are they asking the public to place their attention? And are focal points for the public’s attention the best place for real action? The IC is calling for a military response, when military responses to the LRA did not work in the past. So many people in northern Uganda have expressed a desire to rebuild. Why can’t that be the focus?

    I am not saying that the “white westerners” should do nothing. And no, there was no implicit insult of “white westerners.” No one called “westerners” too ignorant or stupid to participate (at least I didn’t). Why does it always come down to throwing around comments like that? How is this helpful to the dialogue?

    I am saying, treat the public as intelligent, rather than through emotional pleas that fail to tell the full truth accurately. The film could have directed people to more meaningful actions than it does. I am not criticizing ICs effectiveness in gathering people together and motivating them. I am not questioning their genuineness. I am saying that the actions in the call to action are not as deep as they could be. How is it a bad thing to ask that a call to action have deeper actions? How is asking a group of advocates like IC to provide a fuller picture a bad thing? How is asking the IC to not forget about the local activists a bad thing?

    Yes, you are right. This is a moment to ride the coattails to get people to take positive actions. All that is being critiqued is whether or not the actions IC are calling for are actually positive. Shouldn’t all advocacy campaigns critique themselves to see if they are acting in the best interests of others and to explore what are the best courses of action? The millions of people now engaged can become part of this dialogue.

    Comment by mateo — March 12, 2012 @ 12:33 am

  119. Invisible Children is largely funded by Waterstone, National Christian Foundation, Malachi 3, and other large national foundations that support hardline antigay, creationist, anti choice, movements. These are the same groups that supported the Government of Uganda’s measures to make homosexuality punishable by death.

    Read it all here: http://bit.ly/ys6TN1

    Comment by Jason Jay — March 12, 2012 @ 12:43 am

  120. […] Ethan Zuckerman, executive of a Center for Civic Media during M.I.T. asked questions on his blog about either Mr. Russell’s proceed to facilitate a story about Mr. Kony could make […]

    Pingback by The Lede Blog: How the Kony Video Went Viral | StopNews — March 12, 2012 @ 12:51 am

  121. […] detail what de Waal calls the “dangerous and patronizing falsehoods” I too see in the video. Ethan Zukerman has a great overview, Charlie Beckett offers a self-styled grumpy indictment, while the defence […]

    Pingback by Kony2012, symbolic action and the potential for change | David Campbell — March 12, 2012 @ 2:15 am

  122. […] right to keep it simple. I was struck by the power of that urge when I read a thoughtful, nuanced blog post by Ethan Zuckerman, an expert on social networking and Africa, that came down against the “Kony 2012” […]

    Pingback by Link By Link: ‘Kony 2012’ Video Illustrates the Power of Simplicity | G7Finance.com - Finance News & Personal Finance Resources — March 12, 2012 @ 3:03 am

  123. […] right to keep it simple. I was struck by the power of that urge when I read a thoughtful, nuanced blog post by Ethan Zuckerman, an expert on social networking and Africa, that came down against the “Kony 2012” […]

    Pingback by A Video Campaign and the Power of Simplicity | newsworlddigest.com — March 12, 2012 @ 4:46 am

  124. […] en internetdenker Ethan Zuckerman haalt op zijn blog een Congolees onderzoek aan waaruit blijkt hoe gevaarlijk het kan zijn om problemen in […]

    Pingback by De grand finale van het nieuwe actievoeren: kony2012 — March 12, 2012 @ 6:03 am

  125. […] right to keep it simple. I was struck by the power of that urge when I read a thoughtful, nuanced blog post by Ethan Zuckerman, an expert on social networking and Africa, that came down against the “Kony 2012” […]

    Pingback by ‘Kony 2012’ Video Illustrates the Power of Simplicity - SocialEnterprise.com — March 12, 2012 @ 6:04 am

  126. Can’t help but to think that what should be done, and where the awareness should be directed at, is at oneself. Demonising Kony won’t help. And that is what people do: they prefer to see the enemy out there, in another country, in another person. REAL consciousness would make you aware of your own duality. And living a conscious life and taking responsibility for your own actions, is far more difficult than to identify a brute in a far off African country and to campaign against him. Thinking locally is important. Nonetheless, action in the real world is essential, and KONY 2012 and this blog post is part of that aspect of change. Just remember, it’s no “either-or” proposition. But this way of thinking is usually very difficult for the human brain to sustain. Currently.

    Comment by Pinkovski — March 12, 2012 @ 6:28 am

  127. Professional fund-raisers know that there is a finite amount of disposable income out there for charitable purposes and they are all looking really, really hard for a way to harness social media to tap into those funds.

    I can’t help notice that much of the resentment to this video comes from professional fund-raisers and political activists who seem to be threatened by a new model that might take something away from their causes. Reading many of the comments in the NYT article on this story, one sees that many of the detractors are not individuals reacting but professionals with detailed knowledge on how to read a 990 to see where the money goes. This is fine, one should follow the money. But to criticize this effort as an oversimplification is troublesome. Most activism starts with an oversimplification of a complex issue in order to get more people involved. Development professionals have been doing this for years. Maybe the problem here is that the filmmakers were too successful too quickly.

    Comment by James Gemmell — March 12, 2012 @ 7:55 am

  128. […] críticas a su estilo emocionalmente manipulador o Invisible Children. Me quedo con el trabajo de Ethan Zuckerman, contextualizando y haciendo un análisis de framing. Y con esta información de The Guardian, un […]

    Pingback by Periodismo abierto: de la historia de los tres cerditos a la historia de Kony 2012 « Periodismo Global: la otra mirada — March 12, 2012 @ 8:13 am

  129. […] experience with which to back up his comments.  He has written a wonderful post called ‘Unpacking Kony 2012‘ that you can read in its entirety if you wish. I will share with you a brief quote found […]

    Pingback by Kony 2012: Four Messages I Shared with Students « Eloquent Graffiti — March 12, 2012 @ 8:58 am

  130. […] not faith at all. It’s simply a nice thought that requires no action.Ethan Zuckerman: “Unpacking Kony 2012”What are the unintended consequences of the Invisible Children narrative? The main one is […]

    Pingback by slacktivist » It’s complicated — responding to Kony 2012 — March 12, 2012 @ 12:37 pm

  131. […] successful in attracting attention online and the limits to the methods used by Invisible Children.Via http://www.ethanzuckerman.com Rate this: Share this:ShareFacebookTwitterStumbleUponRedditLinkedInTumblrPrintDiggEmailLike […]

    Pingback by Unpacking Kony 2012 | EthanZ’s My heart’s in Accra « The MediaMentor's Wordpress Blog — March 12, 2012 @ 12:44 pm

  132. […] larger and more complicated issues involved in Uganda and other neighboring countries in Africa, as Ethan Zuckerman of Global Voices noted. Some who have been involved with the region criticized the campaign for encouraging a typical kind […]

    Pingback by Kony2012: New media success story or cautionary tale? — Tech News and Analysis — March 12, 2012 @ 1:51 pm

  133. Seth, thanks for this. SOPA was in the back of my mind in bringing up the issue of oversimplification. I was involved with that campaign, and blacked out my personal site, the Civic Media site and one of the GV sites. I do feel like that movement also engaged in oversimplification, and to the extent that I’m having a “crisis of belief”, as you posit, it’s because I’m genuinely trying to figure out what the appropriate balance between simplification to make a message spread, and presenting the full and complex message. I decided to write about the Kony issue both because I was amazed at the rapid spread of the video through social media, and because it seemed like a particularly extreme case to consider, an oversimplification to the point where some of the most basic facts were obscured.

    I think you’re slightly off base in your last sentence. No, it’s not a surprise to me that misinformation spreads on the internet. Yes, I understand that all promotional material – including that of Global Voices or Center for Civic Media, I’m sure – glosses over inconvenient details. Yes, I am well aware that professional manipulators are experiencing great success in this medium. I wrote my post in anticipation of a wave of commentary about IC’s success in raising attention via social media. Given the incredible amount of attention the video – and now the subsequent controversy – has attracted, I anticipated a wave of campaigns using techniques like those IC employed, from the emotional video to the specific call to “action” through influencing celebrity attention. I wanted to put forward a preemptive strike, suggesting that one of the reasons the IC material was so “spreadable”, to use Henry Jenkins’s term, was that it had been simplified to a point where it had a substantial danger of creating unintended consequences. I’m not saying this is the first time media this simplistic has spread well – I do think there’s an interesting open question about whether less simple, more accurate media can spread via these methods.

    Thanks for your comment.

    Comment by Ethan — March 12, 2012 @ 5:06 pm

  134. […] to keep it simple. we was struck by a energy of that titillate when we review a thoughtful, nuanced blog post by Ethan Zuckerman, an consultant on amicable networking and Africa, that came down opposite a “Kony 2012” […]

    Pingback by A Video Campaign and the Power of Simplicity | Online Charity Fund — March 12, 2012 @ 6:00 pm

  135. […] to keep it simple. we was struck by a energy of that titillate when we review a thoughtful, nuanced blog post by Ethan Zuckerman, an consultant on amicable networking and Africa, that came down opposite a “Kony 2012” […]

    Pingback by Link By Link: ‘Kony 2012’ Video Illustrates the Power of Simplicity | Stop News Daily — March 12, 2012 @ 6:02 pm

  136. […] and a assumptions behind it have been subjected to acid critique by scholars like Ethan Zuckerman, who have challenged a uncomplicated research of a formidable nation and a ideological biases – for instance a substantial arrogance that Africans are destroyed and that a usually solutions […]

    Pingback by HOT NEWS & ENTERTAINMENT » After Kony, could a viral video change the world? — March 12, 2012 @ 7:55 pm

  137. […] wane) instead of on much larger and more complicated issues in Uganda and its African neighbors, as Ethan Zuckerman of Global Voices noted. Some who have been involved with the region criticized the campaign for encouraging a typical kind […]

    Pingback by tc_gigaom_0312 – Kony2012: New Media Success Story or Cautionary Tale? – BusinessWeek | News about Dubai and Middle East — March 12, 2012 @ 9:01 pm

  138. […] of on many incomparable and some-more difficult issues in Uganda and a African neighbors, as Ethan Zuckerman of Global Voices noted. Some who have been concerned with a segment criticized a debate for enlivening a standard kind of […]

    Pingback by tc_gigaom_0312 – Kony2012: New Media Success Story or Cautionary Tale? | Times of News — March 12, 2012 @ 9:02 pm

  139. […] is because it was such an emotive issue that it had moved up people’s agenda. Hence, when Ethan Zuckerman got in on the act with a blog post (a long one) with a more nuanced approach I was able to sort […]

    Pingback by Kony 2012 and the demand for attention | Digitopoly — March 12, 2012 @ 9:09 pm

  140. […] is because it was such an emotive issue that it had moved up people’s agenda. Hence, when Ethan Zuckerman got in on the act with a blog post (a long one) with a more nuanced approach I was able to sort […]

    Pingback by Kony 2012 and the demand for attention : Core Economics — March 12, 2012 @ 9:11 pm

  141. […] of on many incomparable and some-more difficult issues in Uganda and a African neighbors, as Ethan Zuckerman of Global Voices noted. Some who have been concerned with a segment criticized a debate for enlivening a standard kind of […]

    Pingback by Kony2012: New Media Success Story or Cautionary Tale? | Times of News — March 12, 2012 @ 10:01 pm

  142. […] “Kony 2012” Compartilhar/Favoritos Texto originalmente publicado no blog do Ethan Zuckerman Traduzido por Natália Mazotte e Bruno […]

    Pingback by Destrinchando “Kony 2012” | Ibase - Instituto Brasileiro de Análises Sociais e Econômicas — March 12, 2012 @ 11:43 pm

  143. […] Welt wagt, droht sie auszurutschen. Die Zweifel an jener Kampagne werden nur beiläufig erwähnt, in aller Länge lassen sie sich zum Beispiel bei Ethan Zuckerman nachlesen. Für die “Haz” sind sie nebensächlich, denn “der Erfolg” gibt der […]

    Pingback by Im Gasthaus — March 13, 2012 @ 3:34 am

  144. […] and promote thoughtful, informed dialogue on complicated issues like this one. Ethan has a greatroundup of links from various African voices. And Global Voices contributor Rebekah Heacock has an extensive post here, which gathers […]

    Pingback by African voices respond to hyper-popular Kony 2012 viral campaign :: MedellinStyle.com — March 13, 2012 @ 6:04 am

  145. […] longuement à son fils de cinq ans qui est M. Kony et pourquoi il doit être arrêté. Cette simplification des enjeux à hauteur d'enfant a fait grincer de nombreux experts. Dans une série de tweets publiés la […]

    Pingback by KONY – L’ONG Invisible Children reconnait les failles de sa campagne pour faire juger le chef de la LRA | Big Browser — March 13, 2012 @ 7:20 am

  146. […] rather than escalation the fighting? Is an escalation of fighting with an organisation which the UN describes as a dying out even necessary? Could the millions of pounds that it would cost be better spent on […]

    Pingback by Kony 1984 | Bright Green — March 13, 2012 @ 8:02 am

  147. […] longuement à son fils de cinq ans qui est M. Kony et pourquoi il doit être arrêté. Cette simplification des enjeux à hauteur d'enfant a fait grincer de nombreux experts. Dans une série de tweets publiés la […]

    Pingback by KONY – L’ONG Invisible Children reconnaît les failles de sa campagne pour faire juger le chef de la LRA | Big Browser — March 13, 2012 @ 8:58 am

  148. […] longuement à son fils de cinq ans qui est M. Kony et pourquoi il doit être arrêté. Cette simplification des enjeux à hauteur d’enfant a fait grincer de nombreux experts.Dans une série de tweets publiés la […]

    Pingback by KONY – L’ONG Invisible Children reconnaît les failles de sa campagne pour faire juger le chef de la LRA | Direct.cd — March 13, 2012 @ 9:07 am

  149. […] longuement à son fils de cinq ans qui est M. Kony et pourquoi il doit être arrêté. Cette simplification des enjeux à hauteur d’enfant a fait grincer de nombreux […]

    Pingback by Blog – L’ONG qui dénonce les crimes de Joseph Kony reconnait les failles de sa campagne | Actualité Internationale — March 13, 2012 @ 10:33 am

  150. Under threat of death, LRA child soldiers attack villages, shooting and cutting off people’s lips, ears, hands, feet, or breasts, at times force-feeding the severed body parts to victims’ families. Some cut open the bellies of pregnant women and tear their babies out. Men and women are gang-raped. As a warning to those who might report them to Ugandan authorities, they bore holes in the lips of victims and padlock them shut. Victims are burned alive or beaten to death with machetes and clubs. The murderous task is considered properly executed only when the victim is mutilated beyond recognition and his or her blood spatters the killer’s clothing.
    In 2008, Michael Gerson shared this horror story in The Washington Post:
    A friend, the head of a major aid organization, tells how his workers in eastern Congo a few years ago chanced upon a group of shell-shocked women and children in the bush. A militia had kidnapped a number of families and forced the women to kill their husbands with machetes, under the threat that their sons and daughters would be murdered if they refused. Afterward the women were raped by more than 100 soldiers; the children were spectators at their own private genocide.

    Comment by scott — March 13, 2012 @ 1:49 pm

  151. […] Unpacking Kony 2012 – Ethan Zukerman […]

    Pingback by Top links for the week of 3/10/12 | ZAM Legal — March 13, 2012 @ 3:28 pm

  152. […] longuement à son fils de cinq ans qui est M. Kony et pourquoi il doit être arrêté. Cettesimplification des enjeux à hauteur d’enfant a fait grincer de nombreux experts. Dans une série de tweets publiés la […]

    Pingback by KONY – L’ONG Invisible Children reconnaît les failles de sa campagne pour faire juger le chef de la LRA | WWW.CONGOMABOKE.COM — March 13, 2012 @ 3:29 pm

  153. another useful analysis supporting the fact that oversimplification (& social media hysteria) is harmful:

    Dangerous ignorance: The hysteria of Kony 2012

    The video qualifies as irresponsible advocacy by prompting militarisation and detracting from Uganda’s real problems.

    http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2012/03/201231284336601364.html

    Comment by bernardo.parrella — March 13, 2012 @ 4:42 pm

  154. […] originalmente publicado no blog do Ethan Zuckerman Traduzido por Natália Mazotte e Bruno […]

    Pingback by ‘Kony 2012′ gera debate sobre ativismo | Canal Ibase — March 13, 2012 @ 5:00 pm

  155. […] Unpacking Kony 2012 (crítica sobre a campanha – em inglês, com tradução para o português) […]

    Pingback by Kony 2012: o mundo está realmente diferente! « Omnes Omnia Omnino — March 13, 2012 @ 7:37 pm

  156. […] Intelligent summary and analysis from Ethan Zuckerman. […]

    Pingback by » Now That It’s Arrived In China… What Is Kony? Beijing Cream — March 13, 2012 @ 11:02 pm

  157. […] Children. I still stand behind my Rush-Limbaugh-is-an-idiot sentiment but I highly recommend people read Ethan Zuckerman’s piece on Kony 2012 as a substitute for my earlier support below. Thanksoriginal:It didn’t start […]

    Pingback by Limbaugh also supports child abduction, brainwashing and war criminal Joseph Kony #Kony2012 - Jack & Jill Politics — March 14, 2012 @ 2:30 am

  158. […] (you heard that right) documentary was the catalyst of it all. Content marketing on steroids! It is as Ethan Zuckerman notes, a finely crafted "story of self", tugging at the right emotional heart strings. However, […]

    Pingback by The RAAKonteur #76 – Brands flourish on Pinterest, Kony and the success of Content Marketing, and your very last Tweet – RAAK | Digital & Social Media Agency London — March 14, 2012 @ 6:42 am

  159. Hey, do you know anything about the group? Apparently not! I personally know many of the people that are involved in Invisible Children. It’s funny how you say that what they are doing is oversimplifying things when that’s what you do in your column. You act like you know who they are when really you just looked up the facts off of Wikipedia. You sit there behind your computer and punch out an analysis of how they are oversimplifying things and how difficult it can be to catch him. You don’t offer any solutions and basically “simply” criticize them for their efforts to bring someone to justice. I’m not impressed and if you are so interested in bringing Yoweri Museveni to justice then why don’t you use your own money, go to Uganda for over 10 years and bring him to justice? Or is that oversimplifying things. Hey folks, let’s sit back and don’t do anything. After all, we don’t want to risk oversimplifying things. Instead of googling all your information and copying it off of Wikipedia how about coming up with some original thoughts? I’m insulted by your simple writing. Get some facts and write another article in which you are offering a solution to the problem. Also, maybe stick to something you know as a fact. That might help. You look like a real idiot acting like you know something about a situation when clearly all you did was google “Invisible Children”. I apologize for exposing you, but I’m sure your a big boy and can handle it. t

    Comment by Jonathan — March 14, 2012 @ 6:57 am

  160. […] around the web who wonder if the message doesn’t oversimplify a complex issue. We recommend Ethan Zuckerman’s critique on over-simplification, as well as this Jenkins & students piece that adds much needed […]

    Pingback by [Data Viz] KONY2012: See How Invisible Networks Helped a Campaign Capture the World’s Attention | SocialFlow Blog — March 14, 2012 @ 10:05 am

  161. […] observers have warned of the likelihood that this campaign could reinforce the U.S. military presence in the […]

    Pingback by Cyrano's Journal Today » Invisible Children responds to critics of Joseph Kony 2012 campaign — March 14, 2012 @ 10:26 am

  162. […] KONY2012’s oversimplification of a complex political reality in Central Africa, worrying that the video might do more harm than good by telling only part of the story.  Responding to critiques of its practices and goals, Invisible Children has produced a forceful […]

    Pingback by Social Media, Legacy Media, and the Future of Policy Debate | en — March 14, 2012 @ 10:51 am

  163. […] not been without some controversy and social media pushback. Some questioned whether the effort was over-simplifying the situation and others pointed out that Kony was no longer in Uganda. Still others question whether Invisible […]

    Pingback by Marketing the Viral Effect and Not-for-Profit Gold « crowdSPRING Blog — March 14, 2012 @ 11:09 am

  164. Mr. Zuckerman, this article is extremely well written! I agree whole-heartedly with your viewpoint and assertions regarding Invisible Children and their campaign. Although I am sympathetic to their cause, I am much more interested to see how things play out.

    Well done sir.

    Comment by Dante — March 14, 2012 @ 11:30 am

  165. […] by Invisible Children. (If you haven’t read it, I strongly recommend Ethan Zuckerman’s “Unpacking Kony 2012.”) Yet, what about the media campaign itself? Activists (and brand marketers) everywhere are in awe […]

    Pingback by The Power of Youth: How Invisible Children Orchestrated Kony 2012 « Social Media Collective — March 14, 2012 @ 11:33 am

  166. […] about the medium they’re using and focused on a single, simple goal. I see Mogus as answering my questions about the campaign and oversimplification by arguing that too much policy nuance and too many campaigns and goals will inevitably dilute the […]

    Pingback by …My heart’s in Accra » Useful reads on Kony 2012 — March 14, 2012 @ 12:00 pm

  167. […] looming question remains, and it is addressed at great length and with serious thoughtfulness by founder of the civic media community of global voices Ethan Zuckerman. I’ll quote a […]

    Pingback by Teaching Resources: Responsible Advocacy, Kony 2012, Invisible Children, and Humility | Building a Better World — March 14, 2012 @ 3:53 pm

  168. […] Children. (If you haven’t read it, I strongly recommend Ethan Zuckerman’s “Unpacking Kony 2012.”) Yet, what about the media campaign itself? Activists (and brand marketers) everywhere are […]

    Pingback by danah boyd: The Power of Youth: How Invisible Children Orchestrated Kony 2012 | USA Press — March 14, 2012 @ 5:55 pm

  169. Kony, Social Media Campaigning and Digerati Naivete…

    This is getting quite fascinating. If you have not been following the story, here is a summary by Dan Parrotta of HBR: Last week, Invisible Children launched a brilliant video aimed at making Ugandan rebel warlord Joseph Kony “famous” in the interest…

    Trackback by broadstuff — March 14, 2012 @ 6:38 pm

  170. […] thing’ seems so simple, and yet….  To set things up, here’s a few snippets from Ethan Zukerman’s post on the complexity of the Kony […]

    Pingback by doing good « — March 14, 2012 @ 7:22 pm

  171. I completely agree with this blog, but then again i agree with a few of the people that had commented and said the best way to fix this problem is to fix the problems in our own backyard. Spending money that isn’t even ours is not going to help the situation. I am an American and i see plenty of horrible things going on here everyday. I understand where people are coming from and most do just want to help in one way or another. People need to stand up an get control back over our government. Then think about helping other people. The video was moving an definitely had a way of capturing audiences. Well the world for that matter. How can anyone think it is a good idea to dump millions of dollars into sustaining people but not rebuilding them or teaching them to depend on themselves? Its like when birds push their babies out of the nest. They need to be able to support themselves. WE NEED TO BE ABLE TO SUPPORT OURSELVES TO HELP THEM.

    Comment by Shannon B. — March 14, 2012 @ 8:08 pm

  172. The vast majority of the people commenting on this site need to just chill. Both side have valid points, but are way too entrenched in their own sense of justice that they can not see beyond the trees.

    Those offering critiques could learn from the successes of the IC campaign (I mean seriously, how did they do it?). But the critics are also encouraging us to examine advocacy methods to ensure that the best is being done. Nothing wrong with that. I wish more charities examined themselves in the mirror.

    The supporters of IC, relax! No sense in getting so defensive. Constructive dialogue on both sides is important if the non-profit community is to ever improve upon itself. Yes, the video has accomplished something important, but unless they examine their strategy, they will not be able to build upon the momentum. And if IC does not want to or is not capable of examining themselves in the mirror without feeling attacked, then they are in this work for the wrong reasons. They should look at themselves critically and if they are professionals, would welcome the feedback.

    Rather than direct your anger at bloggers or at the IC, how about reflect on what you can do personally? This is like when Conservatives and Liberals argue over who is more patriotic. Both sides are patriotic, but have different approaches. We need to argue a bit with one another to help us see through the trees, but we can do it with civility. Can’t we?

    I am glad that Ethan and many other bloggers and journalists are discussing Uganda and the IC. Isn’t this after all what “we” wanted? Discussion?

    IC is not the demon in the room, but they are also not the angel.

    Comment by Jafar — March 14, 2012 @ 8:23 pm

  173. To argue that IC is causing more harm than damage you need to illustrate how the benefits Museveni is reaping from this situation is causing more harm than the harms IC is trying to fight.

    Autesserre’s illustration of the situation of DRC does this job (harm caused by increased rape is larger than the rape the advocacy is reducing). Yours doesn’t (Museveni might be a bad guy but seems to me at least someone we should work with as long as he can help get Kony arrested).

    In addition, I encourage you to take a look at the larger picture. You are having the chance of bringing Museveni to people’s attention only because everyone is because that 30-min clip has sparked the debate. Were it not for IC’s work, Museveni’s atrocities would have remained invisible, as well.

    As far as I know, IC doesn’t endorse this dictator (and that’s probably why you call it an unintended consequence), and as people keep talking, this guy will be pressured by the global attention he is getting and is likely to start to behave.

    Comment by H.Song — March 14, 2012 @ 11:25 pm

  174. […] critiques and reactions against the #StopKony campaign.  Ethan Zuckerman has an excellent post, “Unpacking Kony 2012″ that details many of the problems with the video, including that the film gives Ugandans little […]

    Pingback by Kony 2012: Whiteness, Social Media and Africa :: racismreview.com — March 15, 2012 @ 12:30 am

  175. Interestingly, northern Ugandans REALLY did NOT LIKE the Invisible Children video. There is a story on Al-Jazeera with accompanying news footage of a screening done in Lira, northern Uganda. The local population had heard so many wonderful things about the film that they wanted a public screening. So a local youth NGO screened the video to a crowd of 35,000 people.

    The screening ended violently as those present became enraged at what they saw as a film completely insensitive to their reality. One woman compared the IC film to someone peddling Osama Bin Laden images to Americans, even if well-intended.

    “The event ended with the angrier members of the audience throwing rocks and shouting abusive criticism, as the rest fled for safety, leaving an abandoned projector, with organisers and the press running for cover until the dust settled,” Webb reports for Al Jazeera.

    Goes to show that even though IC may have had good intention, and even if IC did gain a lot of attention here in the West, they failed at something so incredibly important: they failed to communicate and consult effectively with the community they claim to be helping.

    See Malcolm Webb’s reporting from Uganda here: Ugandans react with anger to Kony video
    http://blogs.aljazeera.net/africa/2012/03/14/ugandans-react-anger-kony-video

    Comment by Jason Jay — March 15, 2012 @ 1:40 am

  176. but Ethan, Jon Naughton quoted you in the Guardian article today and i just wanted to say you LIED, you also
    are not telling the truth. quote you said …’ acamdeics like EZ who have challlenged its simplistic analysis …..etc….”
    well said EThAN,,,,but did you also say on yr criticism that this video was paid for and planned expressly
    as a cOME TO JESUS event fort he missionary group behind it…THAT has not come out…why are you afriad to say the truth?

    SDANNY

    Comment by dan bloom — March 15, 2012 @ 7:45 am

  177. Invisible Children is a US-based CHRSTIAN MISSI(ONMARYU advocacy organization

    Comment by dan bloom — March 15, 2012 @ 7:47 am

  178. […] his blogpost about the phenomenon, Ethan Zuckerman attributes the video’s spread to the oversimplification of […]

    Pingback by Art, Empathy, and Kony « ArtQuake — March 15, 2012 @ 10:07 am

  179. […] Architecturally, this is a brilliant campaign. It’s really too bad that the message is so deeply flawed. (Again, if you haven’t read Ethan’s post, read it now.) […]

    Pingback by Example of a Picture-perfect, Social-based Launch « LaunchPad's Ready-Aim-Fire — March 15, 2012 @ 11:29 am

  180. […] pressure on various international authorities to stop Kony’s activities. (Ethan Zuckerman has some analysis along these lines that’s well worth […]

    Pingback by Wide Angle » #Kony2012 and the Elements of Virality — March 15, 2012 @ 12:09 pm

  181. […] trumps people. This is a tough one (see Ethan Zuckerman’s piece on real questions about oversimplifying complexity). How does a policy and research driven […]

    Pingback by Kony Part One – Invest in Your Network : Bright+3 — March 15, 2012 @ 11:51 pm

  182. […] Ethan Zuckerman brought me up to speed on the most thoughtful critiques of IC’s strategy, and they are many and persuasive. Go read that one, too, but wait a minute, because it’ll take a while, and you should especially read the comments, which are bubbling with vitriol. Drama! […]

    Pingback by The Blog Briefly Known as "Democratizing Philanthropy?" » Blog Archive » #Kony #Kony the remix — March 16, 2012 @ 12:51 am

  183. IC : Win, based on the 180 posts discussing the point in question, following the blog.

    Comment by David Shepherd — March 16, 2012 @ 5:02 am

  184. […] and he examined the authenticity of the Invisible Children foundation, learning that their practices are not as clean and clear as the students had led him to believe, and the problem with oversimplifying a murky and […]

    Pingback by Kony 2012: Viral Video Prompts a Teachable Moment | MindShift — March 16, 2012 @ 2:22 pm

  185. […] key message to something that is easily shared and easily supported (see The Huffington Post and My Heart’s In Accra for some details about those […]

    Pingback by Kony 2012: what can we learn from the world’s most viral video? | Theverytiger's Blog — March 16, 2012 @ 2:32 pm

  186. […] “Unpacking Kony” by Ethan Zukerman. […]

    Pingback by March 21 (W) – Guest speaker: Zeynep Tufekci on Kony2012 — March 16, 2012 @ 5:59 pm

  187. […] Ethan Zuckerman unpacks ‘Kony 2012′ [link] […]

    Pingback by Berkman Buzz « oracle fusion identity — March 16, 2012 @ 6:54 pm

  188. […] has written on the issues and complexities of the situation in Uganda in a post titled, “Unpacking Kony 2012“. It’s an excellent […]

    Pingback by Viral Marketing Campaigns – They Can Kill You — March 16, 2012 @ 8:27 pm

  189. […] zum Film und zur Kampagne KONY 2012: “Unpacking Kony 2012″ (Ethan Zuckerman) “Kony 2012 oder die erste Online-Treibjagd auf einen Verbrecher” (Julius Endert / ZDF […]

    Pingback by Breitband - Information, Emotion, Manipulation — March 17, 2012 @ 7:18 am

  190. […] about this in an early blog on the Kony 2012 video, Ethan Zuckerman of the MIT Center for Civic Media (and a founder […]

    Pingback by Kony 2012: Juggling Advocacy, Audience and Agency When Using #Video4Change : Video For Change — March 17, 2012 @ 9:42 am

  191. […] critiques and reactions against the #StopKony campaign.  Ethan Zuckerman has an excellent post, “Unpacking Kony 2012″ that details many of the problems with the video, including that the film gives Ugandans little […]

    Pingback by Kony 2012: Whiteness, Social Media and Africa | LA Progressive — March 17, 2012 @ 11:18 am

  192. Invisible Children are doing their “job” and filling a role that honestly, Global Voices never could. And you, with responses like this, are doing your “job” and providing an opportunity for those who are ready to look deeper at the problems and solutions.
    It seems perfect to me, and I wish this could happen without all the criticism of Invisible Children. Jason’s breakdown yesterday has made me regret that this has tuned south for him. I am confused by the tendency for activists to completely dismiss Jason and IC. You’ve clearly not done this, but this thoughtful blog post has been used as ammunition for many others who want to do nothing more than dismiss Jason and IC and tell the rest of the world that they can forget about that inauthentic disney-ified movement and go back to their apathy!

    Comment by Tony Shawcross — March 17, 2012 @ 1:10 pm

  193. The real villain in this story is the economic underdevelopment and lack of infrastructure in the region. This makes it impossible to apprehend Kony, or prevent the emergence of future Konys, who are an inevitable outgrowth of the economic desperation and primitive conditions. Let me be so bold as to suggest that if the ICC were legitimately concerned about human rights, they would put on trial the officials of the IMF and World Bank who have demanded austerity measures from African governments, and extracted capital from them to feed a global speculators’ bubble.

    Comment by Marisol — March 17, 2012 @ 1:16 pm

  194. […] the video itself and the paternalistic attitudes toward Africa it reveals among those in the West; Ethan Zuckerman and BoingBoing’s Xeni Jardin have done a tremendous job gathering and summarizing those […]

    Pingback by NiemanLab: O fim de uma era para o impresso | FONTESMAGAZINE beta — March 17, 2012 @ 6:38 pm

  195. […] By Ethan Zuckerman […]

    Pingback by Unpacking Kony 2012 — March 18, 2012 @ 7:55 am

  196. […] Sehr interessant zu lesen fand ich die Gedanken von Ethan Zuckerman: http://www.ethanzuckerman.com/blog/2012/03/08/unpacking-kony-2012/ […]

    Pingback by Kony 2012 « Pimpampel — March 18, 2012 @ 10:18 am

  197. Hi Ethan – great post, that left me thinking through much of the following week of hoopla. I’ve posted on the WITNESS Blog on the question of when ‘simple is too simple’ and the ethics of representation and agency – and how we balance that with a real understanding of how video and advocacy operate (and the undeniable success of a group like Invisible Children in mobilizing and organizing its constituents offline and online).

    http://blog.witness.org/2012/03/kony-2012-juggling-advocacy-audience-and-agency-when-using-video4change

    Here are some thoughts from the blog on when ‘simple is too simple’

    *Simple is too simple when oversimplifying the problem leads to modeling the wrong solutions or to counter-productive impacts for the people who are directly affected.
    *Simple is too simple if the initial action participants are asked to take is not followed by a next step in a ladder of engagement (and I would note that Invisible Children explicitly notes the video is a ‘first entry point’ to engagement).
    *Simple is too simple when it models a solution that misdirects an audience’s understanding of the systemic causes of an issue (two analyses here of this in the context of Kony 2012 are presented by Ethan again, and Conor Cavanagh).
    *Simple is too simple when a simple entry point does not allow viewers/participants to easily drill down and engage with more complexity (see Lana Swartz’s working paper on this potential for ‘drillability’ in transmedia campaigns)
    *Simple is too simple when it perpetuates stereotypes (for example, a ‘rescue’ approach) or reinforces the lack of agency in situations where agency has already been assaulted by the human rights violations themselves. At the root of human rights work is human dignity.
    *Simple is too simple for a single human rights video when it misstates facts, uses footage or interviews out of context, or when it breaches ethical ideas on representation, particularly when that compromises people’s dignity and safety.

    All these are important if we are to make clearer distinctions between ethical advocacy work and advertising or propaganda.

    Comment by Sam Gregory — March 19, 2012 @ 2:41 pm

  198. […] the film there seemed to be someone publishing criticism. These criticisms have been unpacked elsewhere, including on The […]

    Pingback by Viral video, gone bad: Kony 2012 and the perils of social media — March 19, 2012 @ 4:53 pm

  199. […] video has also been criticized by Ethan Zuckerman, who states that the message is overly simplified – and that doing that to such narratives […]

    Pingback by Why Kony 2012 Went Viral | TechDiem.com — March 19, 2012 @ 6:30 pm

  200. […] video has also been criticized by Ethan Zuckerman, who states that the message is overly simplified – and that doing that to such narratives […]

    Pingback by Why Kony 2012 Went Viral – - Tech News AggregatorTech News Aggregator — March 19, 2012 @ 6:31 pm

  201. […] video has also been criticized by Ethan Zuckerman, who states that the message is overly simplified – and that doing that to such narratives can […]

    Pingback by Why Kony 2012 Went Viral — March 19, 2012 @ 6:31 pm

  202. […] רושם של אותנטיות, ולאחר אינספור כתבות שחשפו אי דיוקים וסילופי אמת כאלה או אחרים, גרמה לאנשים רבים להרהר שוב במושג האמת […]

    Pingback by נאמנים למקור? | PINKEEE — March 20, 2012 @ 2:43 am

  203. […] about this in an early blog on the Kony 2012 video, Ethan Zuckerman of the MIT Center for Civic Media (and a founder of Global […]

    Pingback by Advocacy, Audience and Agency in Kony 2012: Moving from Critique to Action - Global Voices Advocacy — March 21, 2012 @ 12:53 pm

  204. […] brilliant analyst of the online environment.  And as it happened, Zuckerman had just dashed off a long post on Kony.  Reading it only deepened my […]

    Pingback by The unsettling “simplifications” of Kony 2012 | the fifth wave — March 21, 2012 @ 2:59 pm

  205. […] See also Berkman fellow Ethan Zuckerman’s March 8th blog post, “Unpacking KONY 2012.”  Share […]

    Pingback by Truthiness and the Networked Public Sphere « Rhetorical Theory Course Blog — March 22, 2012 @ 12:13 am

  206. […] To examine that question, we first have to understand what has captured the attention of people.  I doubt it’s actually the topic. In fact, many have raised issues about its accuracy or its oversimplification. […]

    Pingback by Kony 2012 – Agit Prop on Speed « social media, social movements and social class — March 22, 2012 @ 1:57 am

  207. […] links to the situation in Uganda and a comment by the social media […]

    Pingback by KONY 2012 – analysing the film « ranDoM MusinGs of a cuRIous filmmaKEr — March 22, 2012 @ 5:53 am

  208. […] is a lot of backlash and criticism of Jason Russell’s over simplification of this complex issue. Ethan Zuckerman’s post provides more context on Joseph Kony, LRA and the situation in […]

    Pingback by Kony 2012 --- Propaganda at its Best | Spy Travelogue — March 22, 2012 @ 12:36 pm

  209. Ethan,

    Thank you so much for your detailed post on Joseph Kony and the situation in Uganda. I really appreciate your offer of context and thought on a complex issue. Having been a life long propaganda maker, my fascination with the success of Kony 2012 is slightly different. http://spytravelogue.com/?p=1650
    However I do believe the debate and the conversation that has been generated is of value. We are a citizen of the world, we should make a practice to be more concerned and more aware. Thank you again for your thoughts and the post.

    Charlie

    Comment by Charlie Grosso — March 22, 2012 @ 12:42 pm

  210. […] Unpacking Kony 2012 [Ethan Zuckerman] This post provides an excellent and insightful overview. He asks some really […]

    Pingback by the trouble with paternal/imperialist care: some sources on #stopkony | (Making / Being in / Staying in) TROUBLE — March 22, 2012 @ 3:10 pm

  211. […] Unpacking Kony 2012 – Ethan Zuckerman with a better version of the piece I tried to write […]

    Pingback by Worth reading « Find What Works — March 24, 2012 @ 6:03 am

  212. […] 에단 쥬커만(Ethan Zuckerman): 코니 2012 파헤치기 […]

    Pingback by 코니 2012 · Global Voices 한국어 — March 26, 2012 @ 2:42 am

  213. […] http://www.ethanzuckerman.com/blog/2012/03/08/unpacking-kony-2012/ […]

    Pingback by Deconstructing the #Kony2012 Media Spin: “This Changes Everything” – ChangemakerNetwork :: SocialGood 2.0 — March 26, 2012 @ 8:07 am

  214. […] “Visible Children”, by an anonymous student from Nova Scotia. Also, Ethan Zuckerman is “Unpacking Kony 2012″, Michael Wilkerson tells us that “Joseph Kony is not in Uganda (and other complicated […]

    Pingback by News Digest – Debating Kony 2012 | Emmir Student Log — March 26, 2012 @ 9:31 am

  215. Invisible Children: Doesn’t anyone recall Marshall McLuhan’s THE MEDIUM IS THE MESSAGE?

    Comment by CAMILLE CUSUMANO — March 28, 2012 @ 4:54 pm

  216. […] the voices of people affected directly by Kony and the violence in northern Uganda. Others, myself included, argued that the video oversimplified a complex situation and misrepresented the current situation […]

    Pingback by …My heart’s in Accra » The Passion of Mike Daisey: Journalism, Storytelling and the Ethics of Attention — March 28, 2012 @ 5:35 pm

  217. As an African born and bred in South Africa I can tell you that a lot of these movements for help are a waste of time and monry. The corruption runs very deep, especailly when there is so much pverty. I have seen may United Nations food rations being sold and small shops when they were meant as donations to the poor. Research carefully before donating your money because there ARE good charities that work in Africa. Doctors without borders is a FANTASTIC organisation where the money goes to the right place. Another really good oen is GIFT OF THE GIVERS. Run by a muslim group out of South Africa. Check them out if you are nervous of donating to Muslims-considering the issues in Sudan etc. They are very well know in S.A and donate millions of dollars worth of food and negotiate hostage release etc. basically – do your research, there are good organisations out there but there are also a lot of thieves!

    Comment by cheryl — March 29, 2012 @ 4:39 am

  218. You are a thoughtful polite person. Your dissection of KONY2012 misses by a mile. You link and unlink ideas and notions which clouds all. Like it our not, IC rebuilds schoold in Uganda. The average Ugandan wishes for Goverment change in Uganda. (don’t expect Uganda to praise anything American. Like it or not the AFRICAN UNION has reallied 5000 troops to round up KONY. Like it or not the US pols continued to discuss and agree and raise awareness, constantly speaking out for support of IC. Like it or not IC has a factory in Uganda and employs workers. Like it or not IC is scholarshipping 500 high school kids and 250 college kids. like it or not theyvebeen raising awareness for eight years. your comments miss so much. What is striking is that of the hundred million people who are now aware of the effort about a third of a million people can write and blog, and complain, and cut the legs out of the IC people. if you ask the IC – they will tell you that the most disturbing aspect of the success of KONY2012 and IC is that hundreds of thousands of people are prepared to disparage the nine year effort of creative people who care, who act, who take a stand.
    oversimplification? what’s so bad about a trial for the most wanted person (most wanted by the ICC)ask a maimed.

    Comment by Larry Bremer — March 29, 2012 @ 6:24 am

  219. ‘musing’ is correct.

    Comment by Larry Bremer — March 29, 2012 @ 6:33 am

  220. […] many detractors, including outraged Ugandan audiences, have criticized Kony 2012 as a patronizing oversimplification of a complex issue, and a dangerous call for militarization. These concerns have been amplified by […]

    Pingback by Jamil Zaki: How Social Science Could Help Build a Better Kony Campaign | USA Press — March 30, 2012 @ 8:41 pm

  221. […] many detractors, including outraged Ugandan audiences, have criticized Kony 2012 as a patronizing oversimplification of a complex issue, and a dangerous call for militarization. These concerns have been amplified by […]

    Pingback by How Social Science Could Help Build a Better Kony Campaign — March 30, 2012 @ 10:26 pm

  222. […] many detractors, including outraged Ugandan audiences, have criticized Kony 2012 as a patronizing oversimplification of a complex issue, and a dangerous call for militarization. These concerns have been amplified by […]

    Pingback by Jamil Zaki: How Social Science Could Help Build a Better Kony Campaign – - ScienceNewsX - Science News AggregatorScienceNewsX – Science News Aggregator — March 30, 2012 @ 11:12 pm

  223. […] many detractors, including outraged Ugandan audiences, have criticized Kony 2012 as a patronizing oversimplification of a complex issue, and a dangerous call for militarization. These concerns have been amplified by […]

    Pingback by Jamil Zaki: How Social Science Could Help Build a Better Kony Campaign - Moneymentos » Moneymentos — March 31, 2012 @ 12:35 am

  224. […] http://www.ethanzuckerman.com/blog/2012/03/08/unpacking-kony-2012/ Ethan Zuckerman analysis of Kony 2012 […]

    Pingback by britishyouthcouncil — March 31, 2012 @ 11:31 am

  225. […] video will arise some of the same questions.  As mentioned n Ethan Zuckerman’s article, Unpacking Kony 2012, one of the criticisms faced is that the campaign greatly oversimplifies the conflict with the […]

    Pingback by Social Media & KONY 2012: Sequel Postponed « ICT4D @ Tulane — April 4, 2012 @ 3:44 pm

  226. […] http://www.ethanzuckerman.com/blog/2012/03/08/unpacking-kony-2012/ Share this:FacebookTwitterLinkedInPinterestLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. […]

    Pingback by Unpacking Kony 2012 « RODRIGO DAVIES — April 10, 2012 @ 5:13 am

  227. […] Army (LRA) Joseph Kony. The first video was criticized by Ugandan netizens and other bloggers for oversimplifying the conflict and misrepresenting facts on the […]

    Pingback by Uganda: Kony 2012: Part II – Beyond Famous Receives Mixed Reactions · Global Voices — April 11, 2012 @ 10:22 am

  228. […] Army (LRA) Joseph Kony. The first video was criticized by Ugandan netizens and other bloggers for oversimplifying the conflict and misrepresenting facts on the […]

    Pingback by Uganda: Kony 2012: Part II – Beyond Famous Receives Mixed Reactions :: Elites TV — April 11, 2012 @ 11:25 am

  229. Awareness of a problem is the first step to solving it. I am more educated about the problems in Africa because of Kony 2012. Your blog post is another example of how I can learn more about the real, deeper issues involved.

    I realize that many people will not dig deeper, but I personally am much more informed about what is going on over there than I was before the Kony Video. Raising awareness is the starting point for any cause. Now that we know, we can dig deeper by reading, researching, and discussing with each other.

    Your post is one more valuable piece of the larger picture. I applaud the efforts of Invisible Children for getting people thinking about it, and you and others like you for spreading the word of the bigger picture.

    Comment by Julie — April 13, 2012 @ 11:04 am

  230. […] the attention of social media participants to the issue of child soldiers in Uganda. Even though the issue has drawn some critiques, the method is likely to become more common as different advocacy groups try to bring attention to […]

    Pingback by Social media: active or ‘slacktive’ engagement? « UMSI Monthly — April 17, 2012 @ 12:04 pm

  231. […] Ethan Zuckerman unpacks KONY 2012. […]

    Pingback by Let’s Talk KONY 2012! | Atlanta For Acumen — April 22, 2012 @ 12:00 pm

  232. […] critiqued this “movement.”  Ethan Zuckerman spends time discussing this topic in his blog, My Heart’s in Accra.  Without including African voices and spending more time simplifying a […]

    Pingback by KONY 2012 – Sydney C. Sadler — April 22, 2012 @ 3:11 pm

  233. […] two questions.  Is it possible to convey complex ideas/messages via social media?  To paraphrase Ethan Zuckerman, if we want people to not only pay attention to issues we care about, but also to “spread the […]

    Pingback by Comment on Vanessa’s Entry! | My Blog — April 24, 2012 @ 1:10 am

  234. Thankyou, Ethan, for such a nuanced and comprehensive description of the situation in Central Africa, and the Kony 2012 campaign. It seems to me that we tend to veer between absolute faith in social media and its potential for activism, and a total rejection of the medium as shallow and uninformative. I truly believe it can fulfil both of these objectives, if only we are vigilant in our viewing of videos like Kony 2012. As a 17 year old, i watched so many of my friends be won over by the soaring violins and the smart info graphics: even though we live in an image saturated world, these rhetorical devices still hold enormous impact. I can’t help thinking what might have happened had a film like Al Gore’s ‘An Inconvenient Truth’ gone viral instead of Kony. Would the world have been a different place? Maybe, maybe not. The point is that social media is extremely powerful, and we have to be wary of the potential for the online community to be manipulated.

    Comment by Claudia — April 30, 2012 @ 7:26 am

  235. […] me that people took the time to investigate the charity and took the time to write about the simplifications that the video […]

    Pingback by Ryan Miller » Blog Archive » Kony 2012 — May 3, 2012 @ 1:03 am

  236. […] Zuckerman weighed in with a long post about the video, in which he concluded: As someone who believes that the ability to create and […]

    Pingback by Final Paper – KONY2012 and the Evolution of Narrative Form | James Borda — May 4, 2012 @ 3:35 pm

  237. […] Criticism of the video and campaign comes in many forms.  There is strong criticism that the video presents outdated information that does not accurately represent the state that Uganda is in nor does it portray the current state of the LRA.  Especially from the Ugandan community, many are saying that the video takes agency away from the affected community itself and therefore prevents it from being able to rebuild.  Perhaps the criticism with the most implications for the future of social media campaigns is that the video oversimplified the situation to the extent that it borders on inaccuracy, so that it could more effectively appeal to the viewers’ emotions as opposed to being accurate (Unpacking KONY2012). […]

    Pingback by KONY2012 | amt5vq — May 6, 2012 @ 5:58 pm

  238. […] on Invisible Children. Still, as guest lecturer Ethan Zuckerman suggested in class and in his blog, the movement did raise awareness about the crimes of the LRA. Increased awareness might not solve […]

    Pingback by Meghan's MDST Blog: Spring 2012» Blog Archive » Kony Criticism — May 7, 2012 @ 3:27 am

  239. […] pulled heavily from the coverage that SocialFlow and Ethan Zuckerman gave to the issue, discussing how social media can help engage audiences, help empower the […]

    Pingback by Always Have the Bottle Ready: My reflections on yesterday’s Kony 2012 Panel » words + images — May 23, 2012 @ 10:12 am

  240. […] Says: March 8th, 2012 at 11:47 am But… what CAN we do? Much of the appeal of Kony2012 is that it gives us white, American liberals […]

    Pingback by PM5: KONY = PHONY? « socialbutterflylanding — June 2, 2012 @ 9:36 pm

  241. […] release. The overwhelming attention of this video created a fever-pitch conversation that exposed other points of view. In this moment, we were all brought together to make sense of such a macabre and […]

    Pingback by Perils of the Echo Chamber « C-Notes — July 6, 2012 @ 12:46 pm

  242. […] To examine that question, we first have to understand what has captured the attention of people.  I doubt it’s actually the topic. In fact, many have raised issues about its accuracy or its oversimplification. […]

    Pingback by Kony 2012 – Agit Prop on Speed | — July 18, 2012 @ 3:03 am

  243. […] in 2004 by Bobbi Bailey, laren Poole and Jason Russle..http://www.ethanzuckerman.com/blog/2012/03/08/unpacking-kony-2012/ The Invisible Children organisation had already produced 11 videos, all about Ugandan […]

    Pingback by KONY 2012 Overview « Revisiting the Kony 2012 Campaign — October 9, 2012 @ 12:52 am

  244. Wow – here we are months later, Kony is still free. and back the and forth,the questions are asked, and analyzed. But what is consistent is that IC is still advocating, and bringing the issue to the surface. Here is NYC you can kill somebody in 1960 and thirty years later, if evidence surfaces, the NYC police department will follow the lead and bring you to justice. If not for IC, who will follow Kony and his cohorts and bring him to justice? why is IC’s work questionable? what about all of the efforts IC undertakes in Uganda? like it or not over the last few years IC scholarships hundreds of High School kids. IC scholarships hundreds of college kids. IC councils affected. IC employs. (here and in Uganda). I can’t help but think the narrow critics, the narrow views, and all of the negatives really are pointless wasted effort.

    Comment by lars — October 22, 2012 @ 7:36 am

  245. […] The video has been met with strong backlash. Writers have criticized it for exaggeration, soft bigotry and hypocrisy, Reuters columnist Jack Shafer points out. And MIT’s Ethan Zuckerman has deconstructed the whole phenomenon. […]

    Pingback by Local Kids Fight African Warlord Kony ‹ Voice of San Diego — October 26, 2012 @ 7:51 pm

  246. […] communications and development, his work would be seminal for you. Also, here’s his famous unpacking of the KONY2012 advocacy strategy, for those […]

    Pingback by Week 1. Introduction to a Contested Concept [Historical outlook in a nutshell] « Global, Digital Media: Building Communities — October 30, 2012 @ 4:40 am

  247. […] To examine that question, we first have to understand what has captured the attention of people.  I doubt it’s actually the topic. In fact, many have raised issues about its accuracy or its oversimplification. […]

    Pingback by Kony 2012 – Agit Prop on Speed | Jen Schradie — November 10, 2012 @ 3:49 am

  248. […] received a massive amount of attention – Invisible Children’s Kony2012 campaign – is one that I’ve been very critical of, but it’s certainly worth trying to understand their scale and impact. Invisible Children […]

    Pingback by …My heart’s in Accra » What Ancient Greek rhetoric might teach us about new civics — November 19, 2012 @ 7:02 pm

  249. […] of experienced researchers, and a surprising number […]

    Pingback by Kony 2012: The Worst Case Scenario — December 4, 2012 @ 4:47 pm

  250. […] son Gavin and I found it quite disturbing too. Ethan Zuckerman in has fantastic blog post ‘Unpacking Kony 2012′ describes the campaign as ‘a story about simplification and framing’ and […]

    Pingback by Kony 2012: success of failureSocial Media and Development | Social Media and Development — December 7, 2012 @ 4:45 pm

  251. […] mundane march of progress in poor countries is what “awareness” campaigns often miss.” Ethan Zuckerman’s post stands as a key summary of the story and its implications; as does Gregory’s; I cited them […]

    Pingback by Nate Silver and the best media writing of 2012 « John Bracken — December 31, 2012 @ 6:10 pm

  252. […] with the facts. Who wins between HRW’s dense reports and Kony 2012’s slick documentaries? (See Ethan’s post on Kony2012 and his followup post. Listen to Michael Poffenberger of TheResolve.org talk about the Kony2012 […]

    Pingback by Look Who’s Talking: Non-Profit Newsmakers in the New Media Age — January 7, 2013 @ 2:11 am

  253. […] are acutely aware of the dynamics of social media. Invisible Children’s KONY2012 campaign was flawed in many ways, but it showed a deep understanding of how to use social media to mobilize a massive wave of […]

    Pingback by …My heart’s in Accra » Beyond “The Crisis in Civics” – Notes from my 2013 DML talk — March 26, 2013 @ 12:04 pm

  254. […] Zuckerman’s blog post “Unpacking Kony 2012” and the many comments – some quite heated – in response to Zuckerman’s […]

    Pingback by Personal Media Reflection 5: Who’s driving the Kony 2012 social media bandwagon? | New Spaces — June 7, 2013 @ 11:59 pm

  255. […] second part of this week’s discussion was Ethan Zuckerman’s response to the Kony21012 video. I believe Zuckerman raises many valid arguments – foremost this is not […]

    Pingback by Collective Action – Kony 2012 | Contemplation Road — June 9, 2013 @ 10:37 pm

  256. […] been lauded as the most successful viral video campaign, ever and criticized as misleading, oversimplified, even racist. Before we continue with this, here’s a little […]

    Pingback by What can we learn from Kony 2012? | I Can Go Without — July 11, 2013 @ 2:27 pm

  257. […] that’s received a massive amount of attention -– Invisible Children’s Kony2012 campaign -– is one that I’ve been very critical of, but it’s certainly worth trying to understand their scale and impact. Invisible Children wanted […]

    Pingback by What Ancient Greek Rhetoric Might Teach Us About New Civics | Engl 335, Rhetoric and Writing — August 5, 2013 @ 5:42 pm

  258. […] and a refugee situation described by a UN official as “worse than Iraq”. Ironically, the most visited blogpost I’ve ever written also addresses Joseph Kony and his army, when I argued that a focus on fighting the LRA in 2012 was […]

    Pingback by An anniversary, a reflection | ... My heart’s in Accra — November 13, 2013 @ 10:22 pm

  259. […] is this video about Joseph Kony.  It went viral with a huge number of hits.  But some people had issues with the film.  Kony is still active but is rumored to be in talks regarding his possible […]

    Pingback by Video Advocacy – Using Cameras for Peace | NECRblog — December 16, 2013 @ 2:43 pm

  260. […] academic Ethan Zuckerman assembled a comprehensive critique of Invisible Children and their campaign on his blog. Zuckerman’s primary criticism of the […]

    Pingback by Micro-blogging musings | Preservice Teacher Weblog — June 7, 2014 @ 3:33 am

  261. I don’t think that “Kony 2012″ caused more harm then good. People trying to change the world for the better is the most important aspect of this film. Every one should be more aware of what is going on around the world and stand up for those in need. To make a claim that “Kony 2012″ pushed Joseph Kony into hiding is a little far fetched.I believe Kony would have gone into hiding the moment something threatened his power. What forced Kony into hiding is not important, but that some day he should be caught.
    Also, having gotten America’s attention in Uganda, perhaps our soldiers can change their governments belief’s to make a better Uganda.
    – Sylvia Urdangaray

    Comment by sylvia — August 26, 2014 @ 10:23 pm

  262. […] Zuckerman, E. (2012, 8 March) Unpacking Kony 2012. Ethan Zuckerman’s online home. Retrieved September 28th, 2014, from http://www.ethanzuckerman.com/blog/2012/03/08/unpacking-kony-2012/ […]

    Pingback by What caused the KONY 2012 video to go viral? | Open your eyes. — November 22, 2014 @ 3:06 pm

  263. […] praise and a heap of donations, nearly twice as much as the organization raised in 2011, but also an avalanche of […]

    Pingback by Inside Invisible Children’s massive grassroots network - How “Roadies” built a movement to fight LRA violence — January 15, 2015 @ 9:17 am

  264. […] son Gavin and I found it quite disturbing too. Ethan Zuckerman in has fantastic blog post ‘Unpacking Kony 2012′ describes the campaign as ‘a story about simplification and framing’ and […]

    Pingback by Kony 2012: Success or Failure? | Dev Research — January 16, 2015 @ 5:17 am

  265. […] that we needed to learn how to use social media as effectively as Invisible Children, but with more integrity. We didn’t learn that lesson, because if there’s one thing the humanitarian sector is […]

    Pingback by The invisible lesson of Invisible Children | SomTribune | Daily Horn News & Updates — February 3, 2015 @ 9:35 am

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Powered by WordPress