Kony2012: New Media Success Story or Cautionary Tale?

If it isn’t the most viral social-media effort in recent memory, the Kony2012 campaign—launched last week by Invisible Children to spotlight atrocities by Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony—has to be a close second. According to one estimate, a video created by the group and shared widely on Facebook and Twitter was viewed 80 million times in just five days. Some critics, however, say the Kony campaign is troubling for a number of reasons, including the fact that it is a glib and facile treatment of systemic problems in Uganda and therefore encourages meaningless “slacktivism” instead of real action. Is Kony2012 a sign of how powerful social media can be as a news distribution mechanism, a sign of how dangerous it can be, or both?

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