A reader's digest of KONY 2012
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A reader’s digest of KONY 2012

A reader’s digest of KONY 2012

The rate at which the video ‘Kony 2012’ went viral on 7th March 2012 is quite astonishing, but unsurprising and perhaps predictable. Just as the comments and responses to the video, and the organisation that produced it (Invisible Children), are also quite astonishing, unsurprising and predictable. If you have not already, you can watch the video below.

According to Vimeo, the video had a respectable 58,000 plays of March 5th. On March 6th, 2.7 million. On March 7th, another 2.7 million for a three day total of 5.4 million. Truly remarkable.

 (Update on the 12th March GMT: According to The Visible Measures Blog, ” As of this morning, the Kony campaign has generated well over 100 million views, 112 million to be exact. The views come from over 750 clips across the web, most coming from video responses to the campaign. There are even translated and subtitled versions of the documentary popping up in Spanish, Italian, French, and Chinese. There are over 860,000 comments for the campaign”. Topping 100 million views in six days makes it the most viral video in history, beating out Susan Boyle, Lady Gaga and ‘Laughing Baby’).

There are a growing number of critical responses to both the video and the organisation. Both Chris Blattman and the team at Wrong Rights made a number of cutting observations in 2009 (this particularly video is the 12th installment of a long-running series, to which Invisible Children allocate a majority of their funding). We will update this list with new posts, articles and tweets that seek to take on this latest phenomenon in fundraising and advocacy, to make sure you get a balanced diet of KONY 2012. It is unfortunate timing, as the 8th of March is International Women’s Day, and this will surely detract (and this post is not helping, I know).


International Justice, Local Injustice (Dissent Magazine) by Adam Branch


Joseph Kony Of Lord’s Liberation Army indicted by ICC (Owen Barder)


What to Do About Joseph Kony (John Prendergast – Center for American Progress)


How Joseph Kony is keeping his options open (The Guardian)


Visible children (Chris Blattman)

Worst idea ever? (Wronging Rights)


How do you solve a problem like Joseph Kony? (The Guardian)

‘All People Are the Same to God’: An Insider’s Portrait of Joseph Kony (NY Times)

Bizarre Marketing: Invisible Children (A view from the cave)


‘Why is the US sending its troops to finish off a fractured band of bush fighters in the middle of Africa?’ (Africa is a Country) This was written in response to President Obama’s announcement to send 100 ‘special forces’ into Uganda to flush out Kony and his fighters. Read for some much needed context and Ugandan views.

6th March, 2012

Invisible Children and Joseph Kony (Wanderings)

7th March, 2012

Selling Old Newspapers Shouldn’t Be Profitable: Invisible Children and Kony 2012 (Travelling While Black)

Stop Kony, yes. But don’t stop asking questions (The Independent – Blogs)

You don’t have my vote (Unmuted)

Let’s talk about kony (Securing rights)

We got trouble (Visible Children)

Bad guys, good guys, and the people in between (How Matters)

Taking ‘Kony 2012′ Down A Notch (Justice in Conflict)

Joseph Kony and Crowdsourced Intervention (Kings of War)

On Invisible Children’s Kony 2012 Campaign (Siena Anstis)

The Definitive ‘Kony 2012′ Drinking Game (Wronging Rights)

Invisible Children: Saviors or Sensationalists? (UN Dispatch) Alanna Shaikh & Mark Goldberg

Invisible Children – Pretty Dang Visible (The Duck of Minerva)

ON DONATING TO KONY 2012. (Dear Coquette)

A cautionary tale: Kony 2012 – The backlash (Under The Banyan)

#Kony2012 and its critics (Aljazeera)

I like Jimmy Choos, and I Hate Cheap Beer. Otherwise Know as The Reasons Why #Kony2012 is Being Criticized. (Voy’em)

Think Twice Before Donating to Kony 2012, the Charitable Meme du Jour (Jezebel)

Catching Joseph Kony (Blackslash Scott Thoughts)

Guest post: Joseph Kony is not in Uganda (and other complicated things) (Foreign Policy)

Acholi Street. Stop #Kony2012. Invisible Children’s campaign of infamy (ANGELO OPI-AIYA IZAMA)

Invisible Children responds to criticism about ‘Stop Kony’ campaign (Washington Post)

The #Kony2012 show (Africa is a Country)

The problem with Kony 2012 (Hands Wide Open)

Visible Children: Viewed Critically (John Rudolph Beaton) A personal view from a staff member of Invisible Children in response

Emancipate yourself from mental slavery: exploding the Kony 2012 myth (Harry Verhoeven)

8th March 2012

The Problem With Invisible Children’s “Kony 2012” (Huffington Post)

KONY2012 – Why their success is bad for Uganda (mike clay)

On Kony2012 & the Role of Advocates (whereever you go, there you are)

5 questions for a post-Kony 2012 debate (Aidnography)

Invisible Children and its Kony 2012 campaign in the spotlight (The Globe and Mail)

Machiavelli and Cause Marketing (Holstee)

Critiques (the Invisible Children Inc.) A response from the organisation itself

A Peace of my mind: Respect my agency 2012! (Project Diaspora)

One girl’s guide to Kony 2012 (Wait…What?)

Why #Kony2012 Deserves More of your Time Than a 30 Minute Video (A View From The Cave)

Uganda: Can a Viral Video Really #StopKony? (Global Voices)

Unpacking Kony 2012 (…My heart’s in Accra)

Solving War Crimes With Wristbands: The Arrogance of ‘Kony 2012’ (The Atlantic) By crew at Wronging Rights

The Soft Bigotry of Kony 2012 (The Atlantic)

Why You Should Not Donate To Invisible Children/Kony 2012 (Hugo O’Doherty)

#StopKony2012: For most Ugandans Kony’s crimes are from a bygone era (African Arguments)

Joseph Kony 2012: growing outrage in Uganda over film (The Telegraph)

KONY2012 – a story in one flavour (KM on a dollar a day)

Joseph Kony 2012: It’s fine to ‘Stop Kony’ and the LRA. But Learn to Respect Africans. (CS Monitor) Written by @semhar

Kony2012; My response to Invisible Children’s campaign. (Rosebell’s Blog) aka @Rosebellk

Massive viral video campaign against African warlord hits and misses (Humanosphere)

Stopping Kony, or stopping video activism? (dochasnetwork’s blog)

Care about Joseph Kony? Care about Uganda? For a bit of lighthearted, but poignant, humour

Kony 2012: history, nuance, and advocacy’s Golden Rule (Find What Works)

Joseph Kony and the White Man’s Burden (okayafrica)

9th March 2012

African Reactions to the Kony 2012 Campaign (afriPOP!)

African voices respond to hyper-popular Kony 2012 viral campaign (boingboing)

The women who survived Kony’s war (ethnic supplies)

VIEWPOINT: A Partial Defense Of Invisible Children’s Kony2012 Campaign (Thinkprogress)

Child abductee featured in Kony 2012 defends film’s maker against criticism (The Guardian)

Kony 2012 campaign: Oprah and bracelets won’t solve problem (The Guardian)

Joseph Kony Is Infamous — But Will He Be Caught? (NPR)

Kony 2012 director says it’s not about money while campaign makes millions (Jezebel)

‘Kony 2012’ creator makes the rounds as Uganda campaign goes viral (TVNewser)

Capturing Kony (Human Rights Watch)

Kony 2012: A View from Northern Uganda (National Geographic)

African Critics of Kony Campaign See a ‘White Man’s Burden’ for the Facebook Generation (NY Times)

Joseph Kony springs into infamy (Amnesty International Australia)

the Invisible Children debate – my 2 cents worth (Bethany Duffield)

Before you give, think! (Unmuted)

Lives of Facebook users given meaning simply by watching Kony video (The Daily Autocrat)

Kony’s victims and the Kony 2012 video (The Guardian)

How the Kony video went viral (The Guardian)

Kony 2012: Video campaign more like a fashion thing, says Ugandans (thestar.com)

Kony 2012 may be flawed, but slacktivism isn’t the enemy (Mashable)

The Kony 2012 video phenomenon (Evan Lieberman)

KONY 2012′, and a military solution to the LRA crisis (The Africanist)

Kony 2012 Won’t Change the Lives of Ugandans (Dissent Magazine) by Adam Branch

The Value of a Global Discussion (NY Times: Room for Debate)

#KONY2012 – The good, the bad, and the media (Daniela Papi in Lessons I Learned)

10th March

The only interesting question on Kony 2012 – why did it get 60 million hits? (From Poverty to Power)

Kony 2012 gets 70m hits in a week (The Guardian)

Kony 2012: US state department – we have no intention of leaving Uganda (The Guardian)

3 factors that made the world pay attention to #KONY2012 (Richenda G)

My thoughts on KONY 2012 (and a defense of Invisible Children?) (Chris Blattman)

A Ugandan Reflection on Kony 2012 (Peace Direct)

How Kony2012 gets it wrong (Jackee Budesta Batanda)

White Man Carries His New Burden in #Kony Tote Bag (The Grumpy Owl)

The Worst Killer of Invisible Children is Not Joseph Kony (Give Well)

In whose interests do NGO’s work? -Invisible Children #Kony (Birds on the Blog)

Don’t Elevate Kony (World Peace Foundation)

‘Kony 2012’: How not to change the world (CNN)

11th March

Guest post: Kony 2012 and a look inside the Invisible Children organization (Find What Works)

While the world is stopping Kony, there’s lots more to do in Africa (The Globe and Mail)

Central Africa: Don’t Elevate Joseph Kony (African Arguments)

Open letter to Jason Russell CEO of Invisible Children Inc on KONY2012 (Acholi Times)

7 Africa stories you missed while Facebooking KONY2012 (CS Monitor)

Invisible Children, Joseph Kony And The Ugandan Dictatorship (Government in the lab)

Kony 2012 Hoax Exposed (Infowars.com)

12th March

#StopKONY Now!!! (NY Times)

#Ugandans 2012 (Canadian International Council)

Opinion: Why Kony 2012 created the wrong buzz (CNN)

Forget Kony, Ugandans Are Being Slaughtered By Their Own Western-Backed Government (Prison Planet)

#Kony2012 is ‘magical’ (Africa is a Country)

The Untold Truth Behind Kony 2012 and Invisible Children (blogtalkradio)

Not a Click Away: Joseph Kony in the Real World (Warscapes)

Searching for Closure: A Kony2012 Postscript (How Matters) w/ Solome Lemma (@InnovateAfrica)

14th March

The Road to Hell Is Paved with Viral Videos (Foreign Policy)

15th March

Revealed! Kony 2012’s sinister Musical Comedy roots (boingboing)

16th March

An Open Letter to Invisible Children Supporters (Uncultured)

17th March

Kony 2012 campaigner Jason Russell detained for public rampage (Guardian)

Sharing Public Breakdowns: What We Can Learn From Jason Russell (The Atlantic)

20th March

Kony 2012: Former Porn Actress Bree Olson Films ‘Naked For Kony 2012’ (NSFW, Huffington Post)

21st March

Guest Post: I’ve met Joseph Kony and Kony 2012 isn’t that bad (Foreign Policy)

The White Savior Industrial Complex (The Atlantic)

23rd March

No Longer Invisible (Foreign Policy)

28th March

Learning from Kony 2012 (4-part series) (CIHA blog)

4th April

7th April

Kony Part II: Accountability, not awareness

19th April

New Photos Show a Reality the ‘Kony 2012′ Video Misses (Wired)

20th April

Beyond Kony2012 Atrocity, Awareness, & Activism in the Internet Age (Amanda Taub) an ebook feat. Teddy Ruge, Alanna Shaikh and more.

A life without Kony (UgandaSpeaks)

Making Sense of Kony (A diverse group of scholars and activists) feat. Carol Jean Gallo, Chris Blattman and more.

Ugandan bloggers speak out about Kony2012 (Aljazeera)



Ugandan journalist Rosebell Kagumire responds to the campaign video.

School children in the UK voice their responses after watching the campaign video.

Northern Ugandans react after watching the campaign video for the first time.



“The central thesis of #Kony2012 is that social media can be exploited to place great crimes in a bright spotlight. Hard to criticise that.” (Tim Minchin)

“Interesting video on Joseph Kony. Can someone give me the uncensored answer on why we takeover other countries but won’t stop Mr. Kony?” (Chad Ochocinco)

“PLEASE go to http://www.Invisiblechildren.com Even if its 10 minutes… Trust me, you NEED to know about this! #1LOVE” (Rihanna)

#StopKony2012 is targeting privileged,educated,mostly white youth to care abt Africa by fighting LRA.I expect a more nuanced formula by now” (Semhar)

“My basic premise is that the awareness of American college students is NOT a necessary condition for conflict resolution in Africa.” (Laura Seay)

“We don’t need to give Africans a voice. We need to give everyone else ears” (Solar Sister)


The filmmakers posing with members of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (Credit: Glenna Gordon)

On this photo

Invisible Children, the next chapter (Scarlett Lion)

Why Invisible Children can’t explain away this photo (Scarlett Lion)


Many tips of the hat to friends and colleagues who shared links on Facebook and Twitter. Of note, Tom Murphy and @seenfromafar



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Brendan Rigby

Managing Director & Co-founder at WhyDev
Brendan is an education specialist and co-founder of WhyDev. He is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Melbourne’s Graduate School of Education exploring complementary basic education and the literacy practices of out-of-school children in northern Ghana. Formerly, he was an Education Officer with UNICEF Ghana, and Director of Venture Support with StartSomeGood. Brendan has also been an education consultant and trainer for Plan, UNICEF, ScopeGlobal and the Victorian Curriculum and Assessment Authority. He is obsessed with tea, American football and karaoke.

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57 thoughts on “A reader’s digest of KONY 2012

  1. The Restless Rani

    Love your site! Here's my little bit about the Kony video: http://restlessrani.com/2012/03/12/on-the-subject

  2. The key question is what effect expanded military action against the LRA will have, especially in terms of its impact on surrounding civilian populations. I’ve written a detailed analysis of this question, at the url below:

  3. […] Like Soldiers, They Die Like Children”. Anna Shaw: Blog Reader’s Digest of Kony 2012: Blog  Foreign Affairs: How to Help African Children – Criticism Beyond Kony 2012 Share […]

  4. […] Be sure to check out A Reader’s Digest of KONY 2012. […]

  5. […] my feeds, I spent much of the past weekend thinking about our micro-attention to macro-problems.The growing commentary began to scream that the demand to “Stop Kony” is as simple as it is potentially dangerous. […]

  6. […] myself, but creating a respository of Ugandan responses to Kony2012. @whydev has theirs (see it here) but people have been visiting the How Matters Facebook page specifically in order to find […]

  7. mmcnell

    This is a great summary and source of other commentary. I wrote a piece on the controversy and tried to include as many solid sources as I could on this issue on the 9th. If you're interested in reading it (I'd love to hear your thoughts on it), you can find it here: http://politisane.wordpress.com/2012/03/09/the-da

  8. […] this explains why I paid no attention to the whole Kony 2012/Invisible Children controversy. Click here if you want a list of reading materials about Kony 2012.) No related content found. Digg this post […]

  9. […] going to add much to the enormous volume of critical analysis on Invisible Children’s campaign. Whydev.org has a comprehensive readers digest of links, and posts from Unmuted, Michael Wilkerson and Alex de Waal detail what de Waal calls the […]

  10. […] more links here at whydev.org… Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. advocacycase study […]

  11. […] sure to check out A Reader’s Digest of KONY 2012. Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this […]

  12. […] than doing nothing but sometimes that isn’t the case.  There is a great list of articles on Why Dev and I think people should read as many as possible.  Think critically about what everyone is […]

  13. […] here or here.  Choose a source and write about it for credit. Like this:LikeBe the first to like this […]

  14. […] said. So instead I would recommend that you start by reading :A reader’s digest of KONY 2012 (http://www.whydev.org/a-readers-digest-of-kony-2012/) and then go […]

  15. […] para la inmensa mayoría de ellos. Sin embargo, la blogósfera del desarrollo y la cooperación se ha mostrado desde escéptica, molesta hasta indignada y escandalizada por el video y su trasfondo. Vale decir, aquellos que cotidianamente vienen trabajando, estudiando, […]

  16. […] Expat Aid Workers Like and whydev have a collection of links to some of the best pieces on #Kony2012 [or […]

  17. katie

    Obviously the whole story can't fit in a 30 minute video, and you can't get 70 million views on an all-encompassing documentary. Every movement has those who are along for the ride – and let's be honest, no movement would make it without the masses. Watch the rest of IC's media, and read their material to make an informed decision.

    Their programs in Uganda are led by Ugandans – everyone fails to mention this when they talk about the 'white man's burden.'

    Ugandans (and Congolese, and Sudanese, and citizens of the CAR) HAVE been victims of this – and Ugandans (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OQABpjCalJk&feature=youtu.be) want to do something about it. IC is rallying the world in support.

  18. […] mit der Kampagne und ihrem Inhalt auseinander. Wer nicht genug bekommen kann, hier eine sehr umfassende Linkliste zum Thema (auf […]

  19. […] virtue and technological superiority, and a dose of good old-fashioned blood-lust.” And a digest of the response of blogs to not just the video, but also the organization, points to a contentious relationship (as always) […]

  20. […] the past 48 hours, there has been a flood of criticism of Invisible Children’s #Kony2012 campaign—much of it fair, some of it less […]

  21. […] Why Dev has listed some of the major blogs not only discussing the Kony video, but also provide really interesting information on issues in Uganda and across the continent. Check it out here. […]

  22. […] Here are some thoughts I have cobbled together from interesting conversations I’ve been having on Facebook today about the now notorious/celebrated Kony 2012 campaign. It has been talked about so much in the last 48 hours that it may be hard to believe I think I have anything to add… but I do! I’m sorry I don’t have time right now to link to all the amazing things that have been going around that provoked some of this thinking, but please check my twitter feed in the sidebar for many examples. Whydev.org has also provided an extensive and useful digest. […]

  23. […] Below are some sources more insightful and informed than I (find more complete list via  “A reader’s digest of KONY 2012” from whydev.org and tweets by @viewfromthecave). new TWTR.Widget({ version: 2, type: […]

  24. JamesGaynor

    Here's my take on IC and Kony 2012. http://jgaynor.com/2012/03/08/i-stand-with-invisi

  25. […] more about the Kony2012/Invisible Children debate, check out this article from The Atlantic.  This site also provides a very comprehensive digest of the voices who have been debating about the subject […]

  26. […] there are many more blog posts about this topic, so I’m not sure I’ve shed light on anything new at this point. […]

  27. Marjo Aho

    I notice in your bio above that you are an employee of UNICEF. Does your opinion reflect that of UNICEF in the KONY 2012 controversy? Judging on the amount of criticisms that you liked to it doesn't appear as a very favorable opinion. I would like to know the answer to this so that I can evaluate my future support. Thank you.

    1. Hi Marjo. As stated on our 'about dev' page (http://www.whydev.org/about-dev/), my views do not necessarily represent those of the organisation I work for. In addition, these are not links I like (indeed, nowhere in this post do I state that these are links I like or agree with). It just happens that most posts I have come across or that have been shared are critical of IC and this campaign in particular. However, I have tried to include both sides as much as possible, and a close reading of some of these posts strike a good balance.

  28. […] virtue and technological superiority, and a dose of good old-fashioned blood-lust.”  And a digest of the response of blogs to not just the video, but also the organization, points to a contentious relationship (as always) […]

  29. […] Uganda, and lots and lots has been written on this already (see Brendan Rigby’s excellent ongoing compilation of articles and blog posts on the topic), but the beauty and curse of the internet is that everyone can have their  say, whether they know […]

  30. […] Madness: http://www.whydev.org/a-readers-digest-of-kony-2012/ IC Official Critique Response (I appreciate/respect them for this, but still disagree): […]

  31. […] No, I’m not going to rant about IC or this campaign because it is generating a lot of awareness about the conflict and they are doing a lot of good work, but I might take the opportunity to make a note about perception–especially when representing someone else’s situation. Yes, on one hand the Invisible Children campaign is coming from the position that where we are shouldn’t matter–our shared humanity means that we are all affected by this violence and the continuation of these human rights abuses. But, on the other hand, this does affect some more than others, and its the absence of these voices in the video that has received the most criticism. (You can check out a more complete list of reactions to KONY 2012 here.) […]

  32. buildingabetterworld

    Pulling this together for educators & beginning to think about 'teaching the controversy' – http://buildingabetterworld.wordpress.com/2012/03

  33. […] If you’re wondering to yourself, “what could anyone say negatively about a campaign to bring an end to such a horrible situation?” Fortunately, someone has already gone through the trouble of compiling a list of reactions to KONY 2012, which you can check out here. […]

  34. sean

    That picture is with the SPLA, Sudanese rebels cum government forces of South Sudan, not the Ugandan military.

    1. rolling boil

      Here's a link – From IC's Critiques page http://s3.amazonaws.com/www.invisiblechildren.com
      "The photo of Bobby, Laren and I with the guns was taken in an LRA camp in DRC during the 2008 Juba Peace Talks. … The Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) was surrounding our camp for protection since Sudan was mediating the peace talks."

    2. Thanks for picking up on that inaccuracy Sean. Appreciated.

  35. nothingiseverlost

    Hey, if you think it's worthwhile, I just wrote this: http://nothingiseverlost.wordpress.com/2012/03/08

  36. […] and corporate interests in the region. For anyone who really wants to read up on the subject, whydev.org have a pretty extensive list of pieces on this stuff. So, at this point, I don’t really have anything that new to say, but it’s worth restating the […]

  37. PGC

    Another one! Well-written piece by Dave Algoso. http://findwhatworks.wordpress.com/2012/03/08/kon

  38. […] just like me to something that really matters. But almost immediately, Twitter filled up with people questioning what Kony 2012 and Invisible Children were doing. The rest of my day was filled with blog post after blog post of comments on the […]

  39. […] And much, much more via A Reader’s Digest of Kony 2012 […]

  40. […] blogging battles that have broken out in the past couple of days are welcome. This is being contested and the […]

  41. Miss. Iryn

    I think everyone should read this as well http://visiblechildren.tumblr.com/post/1889094743

  42. […] blogging battles that have broken out in the past couple of days are welcome. This is being contested and the […]

  43. […] fellow bloggers have commented extensively on the pros and cons of this campaign (See here for a list for further reading). So I won’t canvess every point or idea (or get into the “invisible” in their […]

  44. shanleyknox

    Thanks! Appreciate you including my writing as part of this.

  45. […] a much longer list of articles, click here Share this:FacebookTwitterStumbleUponDiggTumblrRedditEmailPrintLike this:LikeBe the first to like […]

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