Skip to content
Technology & Innovation

How KONY 2012 Is Making the Web Smarter

What is the Big Idea?

Thanks to the power of social media, a new 29 minute video aimed at capturing an international criminal has been viewed more than 30 million times in the last 48 hours on YouTube and Vimeo. #stopkony ranked higher than the new iPad and Peyton Manning on yesterday’s list of Twitter trends.

The online video was released on Monday and it’s part of the KONY 2012 campaign effort which highlights the alleged atrocities of the Lord’s Resistance Army leader Joseph Kony who is wanted by the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity. He is accused of making sex slaves out of girls and child soldiers out of boys in Uganda, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo and Central African Republic. Kony has abducted over 30,000 children since he took over as leader of the LRA in 1987.

Criticism of the video only gave it more traction, resulting in additional news coverage and new videos hitting the web.

Check out the video here:

What is the Significance?

The popular video is not typical of an internet success story where clips of double rainbows, cute kittens and funny dogs run rampant on YouTube and Facebook, said Christian D’Ippolito, head of international sales at viral video experts Unruly Media.

“This is the key: YouTube is littered with a whole range of different video content – from lolcats to fails. It’s refreshing to see something that has at its core something that has a real strong message and it shows where the internet is moving,” said D’Ippolito in an interview with The Guardian.

“It’s not about the short sharp clips anymore. Now you’re seeing content designed to trigger a whole range of different emotions. It’s definitely hit its target of generating mass awareness.”

The folks at Apple couldn’t have predicted a better launch date for their new iPad. Mobile devices were the primary tool used to view the video with over 2.6 million views, according to YouTube statistics. The video is most popular with females between the ages of 13-17 and males from 13-24 years old.

So what inspires young people to tune in and spread the news? Social controversy helps, according to Big Think expert Scott Galloway. The protests of 2010 from Zuccotti Park to Tahrir Square serves as evidence that young people will stand up to fight against injustice and inequality.

Listen to Scott Galloway answer the question “How do you make content go viral?”


Up Next
The Big Think, Short Fiction contest was born out of our desire to find new ways of connecting with readers and foregrounding their voices on the site. Today we're proud to publish the three winning entries, selected by author Nathan Englander.