Kony 2012 - a new kind of digital media activism

1 JANUARY 2003

The Kony 2012 campaign devised by the not-for-profit organisation Invisible Children is a powerful demonstration of the potential of social media as a political campaign tool, according to a CSU academic.

CSU's Mr Jake WallisThe Kony 2012 campaign devised by the not-for-profit organisation Invisible Children is a powerful demonstration of the potential of social media as a political campaign tool, according to a Charles Sturt University (CSU) academic.
 
Mr Jake Wallis, lecturer and researcher at the CSU School of Information Studies at CSU in Wagga Wagga said, “The glossy video at the heart of the Kony 2012 campaign presently has 76 million views on YouTube. The film is emotive and straightforward in its narrative, the production is slick, and the message is clear.”
 
The film highlights the plight of children in Uganda at the hands of the now notorious warlord Joseph Kony, leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army guerrilla group.
 
Invisible Children, the organisation behind the campaign, use a blend of social media and iconic branding to appeal to a young and digital media-literate audience. They have an equivocal agenda. This is not amateur footage filmed on a mobile phone and uploaded to YouTube, neither is it journalism. This is a digital media strategy, this is digital activism,” Mr Wallis said.
 
“What we are seeing here is the rise of a new kind of political activism, one which draws on the capacity of social media to deliver visceral footage creating an emotional impact, one which bypasses ideology, politics and mainstream media.
 
“Civil society organisations such as Invisible Children operate in an international media environment. They can deliver a message which circulates via personal digital networks rather than broadcast media. They can deliver emotional impact by appealing to the networked relationships we have across digital environments and use digital media to portray issues using powerfully emotive imagery.
 
“What we see here is the heightened significance of an ‘attention economy’. Roughly 60 hours of digital video are uploaded to YouTube every minute. Mobile devices are ubiquitous. In this kind of media ecosystem, the message has to be powerfully conveyed in order for us to stop long enough to think about it, long enough to care.”

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