The KONY 2012 debate

July 21, 2012 in News, Social Media by Jonathan Machemehl

The KONY 2012 debate

Last week the Stop Kony 2012 went viral on social media. This campaign led by Invisible Children has called into question the work of the organization. Are they creating more harm than good? You decide.

Storified by Jonathan Machemehl · Sat, Jul 21 2012 21:46:05

The Kony 2012 video went viral across social media last Tuesday.  This effort was quickly adopted and supported by groups on the internet.
“On Tuesday evening, Invisible Children posted their KONY2012 pledge, video, and a fundraising ask on their cause of 900,000 members,” said  Becca Hare of in an email. “In less than 24 hours, 300,000 people took the pledge and almost $200,000 in donations came pouring in.”
The viral video brought to light long time critics of Invisible Children.  The debate over whether Invisible Children was helping or hurting the children in Africa started to come into question.
The campaign’s newfound attention was quickly accompanied by criticisms of the Invisible Children organization, including its aid-spending practices, a controversial photo of the NGO’s members posing with guns, and the project’s neo-colonial undertones.
Social media users started taking sides with critics asking supporters to educate themselves before they decide to support an organization.  Reports started referencing the nonprofit’s rating from Charity Navigator.  The rating gave the organization three stars out of five for not allowing independent audits and other factors.
REVENUE  Total Contributions $10,334,060   Program Service Revenue $3,423,351Total Primary Revenue $13,757,411   Other Revenue $7,769TOTAL REVENUE $13,765,180   EXPENSES     Program Expenses $7,163,384   Administrative Expenses $1,444,570   Fundraising Expenses $286,678TOTAL FUNCTIONAL EXPENSES $8,894,632   Payments to Affiliates $0Excess (or Deficit) for the year $4,870,548   Net Assets $6,584,811
The backlash caused Invisible Children to respond to the allegations.  The organization has released multiple statements since the criticisms have started.  Here is their latest response.
In a video released on the Invisible Children website, chief executive Ben Keesey laid out his group’s finances, showing that more than 80 percent of funding was spent on program costs out in the field, and emphasized that most funds were spent through partner organizations on the ground in the communities of northern Uganda and the northeastern section of the Democratic Republic of Congo. He also said that the group, which has launched the most viral YouTube video campaign in history, is dedicated to bringing warlord Joseph Kony to justice.
Despite the criticism the group has received support from President Obama.  The video calls for its supporters to contact select politicians and celebrities to start talking about the campaign.  A link to the video is below.

In addition, the call to cover the night on April 20 has caused Facebook events to be created for college campuses and cities across the United States.
KONY 2012 at SMU | FacebookFacebook is a social utility that connects people with friends and others who work, study and live around them. People use Facebook to ke…
COVER THE NIGHT- DALLAS TX | FacebookFacebook is a social utility that connects people with friends and others who work, study and live around them. People use Facebook to ke…
It is still too early to tell if the campaign will be successful.  Events have started forming on Facebook to prepare for Cover the Night and the group continues to receive support from organizations.  On Friday, the SMU Cary M. Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility encouraged its followers to get involved.

Will you choose to support the cause?