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Social Media- Power to the People?

March 23, 2012

I am sure most of us are aware of the ‘Kony 2012’ campaign launched by the charity Invisible Children this month.

For those of you who are not, Invisible Children created a 29 minute video explaining the work of Joseph Kony- a Ugandan war criminal who has been wanted since 2005 for his crimes. He has kidnapped children for his army and murdered and mutilated countless others. His crimes against humanity have provoked a charity to step in and make as many people aware of the name Joseph Kony as possible.

Invisible Children, a charity helping those children in Uganda affected,  have started a campaign to make Joseph Kony a hosuehold name and shared their video on Facebook and Twitter.

I don’t think anyone expected the campaign to be so successful- with millions of people sharing the video over social media in a matter of days, including celebrities such as Rihanna and Oprah Winfrey spreading the message to their millions of followers. Twitter and Facebook were plastered with Kony 2012 posts, with it trending on Twitter worldwide.

The campaign and charity may have come under some criticism since, but that is besides the point here.

The amazing thing in this case is the use of social media and the staggering effect it has had.

Taken from a BBC article I think this passage sums up the amazing effect of social media and how a simple message can provoke a mass outcry from millions of users- put simply, People Power.

It is the utilisation of social networking, using virtual people power to try to affect change in real global issues, that really makes this campaign so worthy of attention.

The video spread at speed on Twitter, quickly becoming the biggest trending or most talked about topic on the site.

But could social media really be the future of international justice?

“I guess if you get it to the right people and the right person latches onto it,” said Chad Bilyeu, a social media expert based in Amsterdam.

“It’s this passive mode of revolution these days where a retweet is rebellion.”

What the Kony 2012 campaign has undoubtedly done is show how to communicate a basic message to inspire mass action.

The question of whether such a simple social media message can really make a difference to such a highly complex conflict may only be answered if and when Joseph Kony is brought to The Hague.

Social media is fast becoming our primary information outlet and news source, provoking debate without biased, hegemonic powers at the forefront with the ability to freedom of speech at it’s heart.

It’s capability to reach thousands through a few is going to continue to spread messages and spark debate worldwide, with this example showing it’s power.

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