Anti-Kony campaign catches fire

Jeff Hargarten

The viral social media campaign waged against brutal Ugandan rebel leader Joseph Kony has raised criticism from the country’s citizens who claim the video misrepresents the country’s long-running conflict, the Associated Press reported.

Advocacy group Invisible Children seems to have made Kony a household name, triggering mass sharing of its video, the production of signs and rigorous online discussion of his tactics.

Kony is wanted by the International Criminal Court for more than 20 years of crimes against humanity including murder, sexual slavery and the recruitment of child soldiers, whom he has sometimes forced to kill their parents.

The clip generated more than 55.2 million views and nearly 200 related videos by Friday afternoon. Twitter mentions have approached 1 million.

Invisible Children is a San Diego non-profit founded by three filmmakers looking to bring Kony to justice in 2012. “Kony 2012” is a slogan gaining popularity on the Web.

Ugandan officials have questioned the group’s ability to enact change instead of merely raising awareness through social media.

Since the 1980s, Kony’s 500-person Lord’s Liberation Army has attacked and displaced civilians from their homes in an attempt to overthrow the Ugandan government. In the years when Kony roamed northern Uganda, United Nations officials have blamed its government for genocide in its pursuit of the LRA and investigations have revealed the country’s army officers of profiteering from the ongoing war.

The White House authorized U.S. special-operations advisers to aid Ugandan forces in their search for Koney and other LRA leaders in October.