The digital age has opened a new era of activism that offers the next generation new avenues into broader political participation. Critics who contend online activism offer only superficial engagement miss the fact that many of these groups are building ground-level organizations from their digital platforms. The online community needs to be better educated in the critical thinking and media skills needed to fully defend their causes. (Jenkins, 2012)

Kony 2012 was created by an American human rights organization called Invisible Children. Invisible Children released a 30-minute video about the tragedy of child soldiering in Uganda. The aim of the video was to reach half a million viewers over a two-month period which would then in turn raise awareness about the issue. The viral video encouraged people to spread the message Kony 2012, sign a pledge, buy a Kony 2012 action kit and donate to Invisible Children. The video remarkably received 70 million viewers in the first four days, and over 100 million over the first week. ‘Hunger Games’ which is a top grossing film was released in the same week as Kony 2012 and only had an audience of 15-20 million viewers showing the mass audience that Invisible Children was able to reach. (Jenkins, 2012)

The video was well edited and had serious production values adding to its popularity. The film became an instant viral success, dominating Twitter and Facebook worldwide and having one of the fastest ever take-offs on YouTube. #stopkony had hundreds of thousands of tweets, and millions of people were exposed to the video. (Curtis, McCarthy, 2012)

The campaign was adopted by youths and many donated money to buy action packs and spread the Kony 2012 message. Due to this buying frenzy people looked deeper into the company and there became scepticism around the campaign. Figures began emerging about where the money is actually going. Its overall revenue for the year, made up from various sources including the Kony 2012 campaign, was $31.94 million. Its total expenses were $15.98 million. Of that, the company spent 81.48 per cent on “media, mobilisation, protection and recovery”, according to their annual report. (Shepherd, 2013) While the campaign still remains sceptical and members of the public are still unsure on whether or not their donations helped children or profited the company, it is a perfect example of youth’s participation via social media on political world issues.

In some cases, youth’s first political exposure might come from a video (such as Kony 2012) forwarded to them by their friends or classmates. According to the MacArthur survey, 58 percent of American youth forward links or share information through social networks at least once a week” (Jenkins, 2012)

Reference List:

Cutis, P., McCarthy, T. (2013), Kony 2012: what’s the real story?, The Guardian,, Accessed 10th May, 2014

Jenkins, H. (2012), ‘The New Political Commons’, Options Politiques,, Accessed 10th May, 2014

Paine, C. (2012), What is KONY 2012? Inside the campaign that stopped the world,,, Accessed 10th May, 2014

Shepherd, T. (2013), Remember Kony 2012? Well, it’s 2013. What happened?,,, Accessed 10th May, 2014


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