#StopKony making history? Or just a lot of noise?

I was honored last night to be invited to share some social media perspective on PBS’ NewsHour. You can watch my comments here.

Invisible Children’s #Kony2012 campaign has a lot of people talking. After three days on YouTube, the video had 40 million views.  Now, a few hours later, it has 52.5 and every time I refresh the page, the number grows. It has been a worldwide trending topic on Twitter for days. At the peak on Wednesday afternoon, there were 4,000 mentions a minute on Twitter related to the campaign. I don’t know of another video that has gone so big so quickly.

Now compare that to when the earthquake struck Haiti in 2010, stunning the world with devastating images and a rapidly increasing death toll, some of the world’s top celebrities gathered to re-make the We are the World video. After two days, that video had half a million views. Today, two years later, that video has 98 million views and is one of YouTube’s top 10 all-time viewed videos.

So now the big question: What’s the point?

We know that the biggest demographic sharing this video and talking about it is girls in the U.S. ages 13-17.

The call to action on the campaign is to “make Kony famous” so that the pressure and visibility to eventually capture him and bring him to justice this year. The campaign launched with the support of A-list celebrities like George Clooney and quickly gained new celebrity supporters like Justin Bieber when it became a trending topic worldwide on Twitter in a matter of hours. Invisible Children’s Facebook page went from ~400k fans to 2 million in 2-days’ time!

But while this campaign has already made Kony more famous than anyone ever expected it could, what can come out of it?

In Egypt and Tunisia, social media helped to bring down dictators. In Haiti, social media helped to raise millions. Can social media sweep through the jungles of Uganda to find Joseph Kony?

That is the question on everyone’s minds. And frankly the criticism of the campaign –how Invisible Children spends their money, whether capturing Kony will have any impact, whether this is the right issue to pour so much attention into–is only fanning the flames of this viral fire.

My big question in all this is: How much will Invisible Children raise through this campaign? I think that’s going to break another record. And I hope they put it to good – to healing those children whose childhood was stolen from them and from helping Uganda, the DRC and other countries torn apart by war to have a fresh start and a new beginning.

At the end of the day, isn’t there value in the simple fact that we are getting teenage girls in the U.S. to use their texting thumbs to spread awareness of an issue that couldn’t be farther from their backyard?

Watch the video and tell me what you think:

 

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