Friday, March 23, 2012

Everyone's Favorite Topic: Social Media and Joseph Kony

The African Union earlier today said it would send 5,000 soldiers to join the hunt for Joseph Kony, whom we discussed last semester as the leader of one of several rebel groups causing grief to Sub-Saharan Africa. Fast forward several months and now everyone with an internet connection knows who Kony is, and is demanding his immediate capture and trial. The mission is to be launched in South Sudan and will last until Kony is caught. This emboldened mission is launched in the same month that the now world famous "Kony 2012" viral video and campaign were launched by Invisible Children, highlighting the human rights abused meted out by Kony to child soldiers and civilians alike. The head of the U.N.'s office in Central Africa said "soaring international interest in Kony had spurred regional efforts to eliminate the LRA."

The growing trend of social media being used to start, fuel, and spread revolutions, human rights campaigns, and democratic movements is something unique to the 21st century. The Kony 2012 video and the immediate results because of the sharing capability of facebook and twitter mean that we are going to see not only an increase in the sharing of social issues, but an increase in the sharing of issues that maybe should not have been shared. However, this makes the market for social media more competitive and should, over time, ensure that only the quality causes make it through. Kony and the LRA were a threat before the video was released, and will remain a threat until captured. However, the video campaign has made his life increasingly difficult and no doubt expedited his capture.

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