Thursday, March 8, 2012

NERDS do your research - KONY 2012 possible scam

I may have been temporarily brainwashed by a shiny youtube video.

Slacktivism - the word du jour. Do you research what you repost? Do you feel like posting something makes a difference? If not, what would? Some interesting thoughts.

KONY 2012, a documentary produced by non-profit Invisible Children, has gone viral in the past couple days, receiving millions of views on YouTube and Vimeo.

The video has also, however, begun to receive significant backlash from organizations and publications questioning the authenticity of Invisible Children. Many of the negative critiques have been targeted at Invisible Children’s practices as an organization, not whether Joseph Kony, the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army, is a war criminal.

Visible Children, a Tumblr dedicated to evaluating the legitimacy of the KONY 2012 campaign, raised some points Wednesday morning which have resurfaced in numerous publications.

“Invisible Children has been condemned time and time again. As a registered not-for-profit, its finances are public. Last year, the organization spent $8,676,614. Only 32% went to direct services (page 6), with much of the rest going to staff salaries, travel and transport, and film production. This is far from ideal, and Charity Navigator rates their accountability 2/4 stars because they haven’t had their finances externally audited. But it goes way deeper than that.”

You can evaluate Invisible Children’s 2011 budget, which is public online, for yourself: $1,074,273 was allocated to travel and $1,724,993 was allocated to staff compensation.

Invisible Children replied to the criticism in a blog post overnight Thursday, iterating its “three prong” approach to tackling the LRA: documenting crimes, channeling advocacy into energy and operating programs on the ground.

“In response to this explosion of interest about the Kony 2012 film, there have been hundreds of thousands of comments in support of the arrest of Joseph Kony and the work of Invisible Children. However, there have also been a few pieces written that are putting out false or mis-leading information about these efforts.”

Some Reddit users have been very involved in the discussion of the 30-minute documentary, raising similar questions and pointing out Invisible Children’s lack of compliance with the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance.

“While participation in the Alliance’s charity review efforts is voluntary, the Alliance believes that failure to participate may demonstrate a lack of commitment to transparency,” states the organization’s evaluation.

Others across the Twittersphere have accused KONY 2012 of promoting slacktivism — the idea that sharing, liking or retweeting will solve a problem — across the social web. Slacktivism was even turned into the college student and Wonka memes.

I, for one, can’t remember the last time so many of my Facebook friends shared the same link (upwards of 20 were showing on my news feed all day Wednesday). Facebook events for KONY 2012 tours sprung up as well.

As with all charitable giving, individual research is necessary to evaluate one’s level of comfort with an organization. Read through what Visible Children, Invisible Children and others have written if you’re interested in taking a stance on the campaign, which has undoubtedly gone viral.

If you, like many others, shared the film, how much did you research the organization before sharing its compelling film? Do you think KONY 2012 is promoting slacktivism? Sound off in the comments.


When it comes to world issues, I am pretty lazy and apathetic. Yesterday for about 12 hours I was pretty stoked about this KONY 2012 video. I was touched and moved. I wanted to get involved, mostly because I didn't actually have to do much. Basically all I had to do for my part was to post on facebook and make a post on our nerd site. Stupid me. Like all of the other dumb shits that completely bought this video, I didn't do any research. Luckily there are smart people out there who did the research for me. I still feel like an asshole.

And thus concludes my jaunt into global issues. Screw it, I don't care about anything any more. The moral of this story: If you try to care, you're just going to look like an idiot. I should punish myself by playing Vampire the Masquerade or by watching the Twilight series.


  1. I am skeptical of anyone that asks me to buy shit after they finish telling me how I can change the world. A bunch of hippies running around on Twitter with matching bracelets are not going to bring down warlods in Africa. Epic fail...

  2. I'm all for bringing down these individuals but as stated by others there are many underlying issues that allow these warlords to operate the way they do. Heck we have issues here that allow gangs to grow their numbers and stay away from the law. If Kony was captured or killed tomorrow it would make little difference other then some temporary moral uplifting. Osama Bin Laden's dead, the US millitary had been all our on this one guy for years, end result al-Qaeda still is functioning, still recruiting and still a threat. It takes money, jobs, social development, education, and yes military and police action and a crap load of time to truely deal with things like this as. Not to mention a crap load of conviction from local governments and citizens alike. I can't fault these guys for their efforts to help and I'm sure it will but anyone expecting a magic bullet from this is deluding them selves.

  3. Just figuring that out now? Here: Go fuck yourself!
    Take that! Hahhahahahaha