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Invisible Children's viral campaign to stop Joseph Kony has garnered a lot of media coverage.
In some ways, Invisible Children's "Kony 2012" campaign has accomplished what it set out to do: it has drawn attention to the atrocities perpetrated by Joseph Kony and his Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) in Uganda.
A host of celebrities including George Clooney, Rihanna, Justin Bieber and Oprah voiced their support for the cause, according to Reuters.
However, the video that went viral this week sparked a backlash of criticism, prompting the media to take a closer look at Invisible Children, the organization behind the documentary.
Here is how the media has covered this issue so far:
The Obama administration commended the campaign, with White House Press Secretary Jay Carney saying: "We congratulate the hundreds of thousands of Americans who have mobilized to this unique crisis of conscience," according to The New York Daily News.
Carney said the campaign is "consistent with the bipartisan legislation passed by our congress in 2010. The United States continues to pursue a comprehensive multi-faceted strategy to help the governments and people of Central Africa in their efforts to end the threat posed by the LRA and reduce the human consequences of the LRA's atrocities."
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The Times charted how the video was spread through social networks like Facebook and Twitter, garnering, as of March 9, 2012, 55,000,000 views on YouTube.
Danah Boyd, a social media researcher, told The Times: "[Invisible Children] create narratives that can be boiled down to 140 characters while still engaging people emotionally. They create action messages that can be encapsulated into a hashtag. And they already have a strong network of people who are, by and large, young, passionate, active on social media, and structurally disconnected from one another."
Jason Russell, the director behind the documentary, specifically asked the audience to use social media platforms to spread the message, to ensure that "Kony's name is everywhere," and that is precisely what happened as the hashtags #kony2012 and #stopkony began trending worldwide.
The success of the viral campaign prompted critics to point out the video's simplistic message, highlighting the organization's poor financial track record and questioning the timing and relevance of the campaign when Kony has not been spotted in Uganda for years.
More on GlobalPost: Kony 2012 campaign criticized for dumbing down conflict
Adding to the controversy was a picture of the founders of Invisible Children, Bobby Bailey, Laren Poole, and Jason Russell, posing with guns beside members of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), a group that fights against Kony's LRA. The photographer who took that picture, Glenna Gordon, spoke to The Washington Post about the story behind the moment.
Responding to a question about the photo seeming "colonialist" and hinting at "the white man's burden" Gordon said: "I think all of those things are true. The photo plays into the myth that Invisible Children are very much actively trying to create... I don’t think they think there is a problem with the idea that they are colonial. This photo is the epitome of it, like, we are even going to hold your guns for you."
She went on to add, "I found all of their previous efforts to be emotionally manipulative, and all the things I try as a journalist not to be."
Focusing on the criticism against the group, Gordon said: "People who have lived [in Uganda] for years, bona fide aid workers who have studied foreign policy and other relevant fields like public health, who are really there because they are trying to solve problems — they see Invisible Children as trying to promote themselves and a version of the narrative."
More on GlobalPost: Invisible Children responds to Kony 2012 video criticism
Russell, one of the filmmakers, responded to criticism over the photograph on the Invisible Children website: "Let me start by saying that that photo was a bad idea. We were young and we got caught up in the moment. It was never meant to reflect on the organization." A full response to all the criticism leveled at Invisible Children can be found on their website.
Russell was also on NBC's Today show, speaking with Ann Curry about the campaign and the video, Yahoo News reported. Russell attributed the popularity of the video to it being "a human story," saying, "We're all human beings, and for some reason we forgot about our humanity because of politics and because all these things we're talking about have paralyzed us."
Jacob Acaye, the former child abductee who was featured prominently in Invisible Children's video, defended the documentary and the filmmakers. Speaking to the Guardian, Acaye, 21, said, "It is not too late, because all this fighting and suffering is still going on elsewhere. Until now, the war that was going on has been a silent war. People did not really know about it."
Referring to the fact that Kony fled from Northern Uganda into the forests of Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic, Acaye said, "Now what was happening in Gulu is still going on elsewhere in the Central African Republic and in Congo. What about the people who are suffering over there? They are going through what we were going through."
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