A worldwide internet campaign to capture a brutal, African warlord has certainly captured the world's attention.
It's called “Kony 2012”, a 30-minute video that documents the brutal exploits of Ugandan rebel leader Joseph Kony, his notorious "lord's resistance army", and their reign of terror, that included kidnapping children in Uganda and three neighboring countries. The video, made by filmmaker Jason Russell, the co-founder of the group 'Invisible Children’, is now the fastest-growing viral video in history.
Chico state communication professor, Doctor Zach Justus, credits the video's success to social media. "Social media has dramatically changed how social movements and social awareness operate," he says.
The film's title reflects the goal to catch Kony by the end of this year. People are quickly joining in that goal. In fact, on April 20th, there is a "Cover the Night" event. During it, supporters are urged to put up posters and stickers on street corners worldwide.
At Chico State, juniors Alex O'Leary and Adam Graves were motivated to organize one of those events locally. O’Leary says, "I really wanted to get involved somehow.. I was going to attend the thing in Chico, turns out there wasn't one, so I decided to create one." "The more people we have aware of issues, the more likely it is to get heard by people in power," says Graves.
Graves and O'Leary created the Chico Facebook event, late Tuesday night. Less than 48-hours later, nearly 900 people are 'attending' the event.
Graves says thanks to Facebook, issues like this become important to people through exposure. "I believe that they've allowed us to expose the bad guys in our world and make people aware of who they are." Dr. Justus says, "Stuff like that can make a real difference. It doesn't always, sometimes it disappears as fast as it shows up, but it can make real changes."
There are critics of the group and the video... The most notable is the Ugandan government, who thinks Kony actually fled when he was indicted by international courts seven years ago. And they say conditions aren't as bad in Central Africa as they were when Jason Russell started shooting the documentary nine years ago.