Is #Kony2012 Really About Ugandan Oil and War? Other Videos Say It Is All Social Media Propaganda

One week after #Kony2012 took over the Internet, several theories and videos the question the campaign and its intentions have appeared just as quickly. We did find one that many have been sharing with us, and as far as theories go, it is just a theory, yet it provides an alternative motive as to why the #Kony2012 video took off last week. Do we agree with it? We don't know, although we do think that the Internet is a place where people tend to react instead of pausing and questioning things. This video has elements of conspiracy theories (and some would say anti-Israeli propaganda), but we are sharing it since this video is now starting to spread on the Internet through several sources.

Here is one channel on YouTube that is running it:

Here is another channel that provides another theory that brings out other very good arguments and asks some very valid questions:

Yet the best one we have seen so far is this one from a Ugandan blogger:

INFOGRAPHIC: The Other Side of Uganda #Kony2012

We got this from a fellow Twitter follower, who runs the blog BELIEVING IN AFRICA. She tweeted the following image to us, which originally appeared on her post. Yes, there is another side to all this. You decide for yourself, although the image here is very well-sourced (World Bank, UN).

About Believing In Africa

Researcher (market & social) travelling and working in Africa. Born in South Africa, lived in Ghana and Kenya plus traveled to 17 other African countries means I've seen a lot – and believe more than ever. I believe that Africa is a continent of incredibly innovative, strong and caring people all living in a land packed full of resources – and that these , mainly the former, will lead us all to a better future. This blog explains why…

One Week After The #Kony2012 #StopKony Video Launched, Questions Still Remain

Just five days ago (has it been that long?), we posted an initial piece about the social media phenomenon of #Kony2012 and #StopKony. It was our most visited blog post of 2012, earning unprecedented interest worldwide. We think this interest was caused by the fact that as with any Internet phenomenon, while millions of people instantly reacted and saw things as valid (and in the case of the Invisible Children viral video, no one here is questioning the content's brutal and horrific authenticity), we questioned why. Why would did this video all of a sudden become part of the online world, so much so that in only a week of releasing the video, Invisible Children had made Joseph Kony a name most people in the United States and the Western world now know?

We also covered what Invisible Children had to say about its critiques and have seen hundreds of posts, videos, and memes about the entire topic of #Kony2012.

Nonetheless, questions still remain, and as we have said before, sometimes it is better to pause and look at the whole picture to confirm that your initial gut reaction was true.

Which leads us to a post we read today from Conscience Commentary, entitled #StopKony #Kony2012. The author makes several points within the context of the mission's public policy objectives, its philanthropic mission, and the strategy behind it all. We won't go into each point here (you can click on the entire blog here), but we would like to focus on the author's final point, which he elaborates in the context of why going "viral" on the Internet can be a Catch-22, and then informs us about some of the people behind part of the funding of IC:

…I think the #Kony2012 campaign was both strategically smart, but I also think it will be a victim of its own success.  Cause-marketers and strategists cannot argue with 70 million streams.  Less than 40 million tuned into the Oscars this year.  The viral success of this video is unparalleled.  However, I would rather have 700,000 watch 10 of my videos and react to 10 calls to action, than 70 million hit Like on Facebook.  Why?  Everyone has seen this video.  The story started, and it ended, in less than one week.  There are no legs to exploit.  And, unless Invisible Children has another viral video sensation up its sleeve, which it may, I don’t see how they recapture and re-engage an American who wants to be on the bandwagon.  In fact, I worry that the story, given its epic proportions, because a parody at some point soon. I can already see the SNL or Onion video.

There are a handful of operational critiques I would add to the discussion.  If you may go viral, prepare for the PR before you launch.  The CEO, the Communications Director, surrogates were bombarded for interviews.  And, in many they appeared defensive and unprepared to answer the standard list of critiques. By day 3 this had been remedied.  But, lesson learned by the rest of us.   And, from a production standpoint, I am torn on the pros and cons.  Production quality was high.  The form of the narrative and aligning the viewers values as the protagonist of the video was wise.  The use of the CEO’s child was, on the one hand, a sign of the simplicity of the issue.  But, on the other hand, it is slightly condescending to a viewer: “Even a Child gets it…” doesn’t always play well with audiences.  They seemed to pull it off in a genuine way, but be careful should you attempt something similar.

Within the 30 minute video, #StopKony did a few smart things, but I would posit that they did TOO MANY.  There are four distinct calls to action. (1) Share. (2) Buy a Kit. (3) Blanket the Night Campaign and (4) 20/12 initiative.  Because of the length and the overwhelming menu of options presented to the viewer, most just hit ‘share’ and felt their moral duty for the day had been complete. Some will buy a kit, like the guy at my gym who had a shirt by Wednesday (?!?). But, I fear the Blanket the Night campaign may not have enough engagement to succeed.  Unless the organization has strong and experienced field professionals nationally, it will inevitably fail to meet the expectations of a video that had 70 million streams.  And, while I believe the 20/12 concept is simple, smart and brilliant, amidst all the other calls to action, and without a clear ask for the viewer to help on this particular path, I don’t know how it easily translates into successful action.  Again, I could be wrong. The video and I.C. seem to have captured the zeitgeist of the 2008 Obama campaign.  The zeal and youthful energy seems similar to the call for Hope and Change to Believe In.  In addition, I noticed a pastor on the organization’s board. If there is a strong network of America’s super-Churches, anchored by strong evangelists with big audiences and institutionalized youth groups, then Invisible Children could have a built in field operation that politicians would envy.  Time will tell.

At the end of the day, all the criticism aside, I echo what many seem to believe: it is a story that needs to be told; it is an issue that needs to be addressed; and I am glad that the topic is now elevated to a level where Americans are aware of it.  I hope that the concern for this issue continues, until we can work with our partners across the world to end this terrible practice.

UPDATE: Truth Wins Out just posted a story that questions major funding sources for Invisible Children. I am with holding judgment until more is known, but it is concerning. This raises a critical and salient question: does the funding source matter if the ends are good in and of themselves?   Or, do we have to assume that a dubious source of donations implies something morally corrupt about the organization itself?  I don’t have the answer, but I think it is an important consideration for organizations and issue campaigns.

TUSD Board Member Michael Hicks Calls for Facebook Boycott of “Raciest” Three Sonorans Blog

This morning, the Tucson Weekly reported the following Facebook post from Tucson Unified School District governing board member Michael Hicks. Hicks, who is facing a new recall effort for his positions to eliminate TUSD's Ethnic Studies program, urged his Facebook community to stop the Three Sonorans blog, whom Hicks calls "raciest."

Good to see school leaders practice bad English spelling and wrong usage of words.

Rush Threatens to Sue Rush

This perhaps could be the best story out of the entire Rush Limbaugh fiasco, as reported by Raw Story last week:

The Canadian supergroup was contacted by The Huffington Post’s Bob Cesca this week and asked if they gave Limbaugh permission to use their music. They responded by sending Limbaugh a cease and desist letter through their attorney.


Suck it, Limbaugh. Hit it, Geddy.


The Latest @luisfortuno51 Twitter War: Puerto Rico and Greece

Cue it up, Jack Nicholson.

The New Progressive Party (PNP) of Puerto Rico, who is actively campaign for incumbent pro-statehood and Republican Governor Luis Fortuño, has taken issue with a Reuters story called Puerto Rico is America's Greece. The article, written by Reuters contributor Cate Long, dives deep into the island's economic woes and compares Puerto Rico's situation to that of Greece's. Such information has been available for the last few months, as a recent economic report revealed in December, 2011. This is just part of what Long writes:

But it’s Puerto Rico’s massive debt load that makes it resemble another crisis-stricken country that’s been in the news lately: Greece. Although the commonwealth’s debt load is only 89 percent of its GDP, Puerto Rico’s underlying finances are weakening, and a big reason why it has balanced its budget so far is because it sold tax anticipation bonds and transferred the funds into the general fund. In 2011 public revenues were $8.17 billion while expenditures were $9.07 billion. This shortfall was plugged with official funds from the COFINA Stabilization Fund, a government subsidiary that sold bonds to be paid off with future sales tax revenues.

So what does the PNP do? Post an image on Facebook and they go on Twitter to call Long an "activist of Occupy Wall Street." So, when in doubt, personally attack a reporter. That won't play well, will it?

Granted we could be snarky and ask the PNP to actually edit their spelling errors in Spanish (Espana, pais), but we won't. However, we do find it laughable and sad that a 15.2% unemployment rate is being seen as "good news" for the island. In addition, the chart also confirms that Puerto Rico's credit rating is pretty low as well. Finally, the chart does nothing to combat the original findings of the December report, which we will share here:

Two Drops of Water

According to the firm [WSC], there are many similarities between Puerto Rico and Greece, Italy, and Spain, which the report describes as “weak European economies, among them: insolvent pension plans, high unemployment, and poor management in the collection of revenues into the treasury.

Of all the similarities, however, the debt level would be the most alarming indicator, according to the report. WSC estimated that is one were to divided the central government debt by the population of the island, every Puerto Rican owes about $ 7,837. Meanwhile, the island’s per capita income would be at about $ 13.675. Percentage-wise speaking, this means a debt ratio of 57.3% to income.

If the calculation considers other $ 28 billion of debt issued by public corporations and municipalities, each Puerto Rico would owe about $ 17, 265 in debt.

As Indebted as Portugal

“(The figure) aligns more with Portugal, near to that of Spain, and well above the lowest per capita income in Puerto Rico,” said WSC.

The per capita debt of Portugal, as WSC states, is about $ 16,402. In Spain it is estimated to be $ 17,539.

However, this indicator in states like New Jersey would be about $ 3,669, in Hawaii it would be around $ 3,996 and in Connecticut, the debt per capita would be in the vicinity of $ 4,859. Percentage-wise speaking, the debt of these states in proportion to income per capita would be 7.2%, 9.6% and 8.8%, respectively.

The firm estimates would be higher if one considers that WSC did their numbers based on a total debt of around $ 64 billion

On November 20, El Nuevo Día outlined that public debt was about $ 65.5 billion.

That figure, as a proportion of Gross National Product (GNP) could be equal or exceed the size of the local economy. This means that the debt of the Island in relation to GNP, could range between 92% and 100% or more, something that the research identifies as a serious economic burden for the development of any society.

Poor Reputation

“Despite having a conservative governor in fiscal terms, the history of Puerto Rico is tainted by cronyism and irresponsible fiscal decisions,” the firm said.

He added that unless the debt is reduced or the island’s economy grows faster than debt, Puerto Rico is aimed at a “critical moment” for its finances before the end of this decade. At this juncture, in light of fiscal conservatism “rampant” in the federal capital, it would be “unlikely” that the US Congress would help the island. So, if the situation does not improve “materially and fast,” the island would be in serious trouble and the U.S. municipal debt market may face “a significant credit hurdle,” said WSC. Puerto Rico’s debt has grown at a rate of 9% annually in recent times. Meanwhile, the Puerto Rican economy has shrunk almost 12% since the start of the recession.

The BGF Refutes Findings

“It is clear that we have to keep working,” Batlle said when asked about the report.

“In 2009, we indeed were on the path to being Greece,” admitted the banker. ”But we have succeeded in keeping Puerto Rico from falling off the cliff,” Batlle said, referring to the period when the island lost access to capital markets by the growing fear of degradation.

Batlle preferred to emphasize that the report acknowledges the progress of the fiscal reforms that the Fortuño administration has implemented. In response to questions about the possibility of restructuring the island’s debt, Batlle said it will not be necessary if they continue to apply that fiscal discipline measures have already been implemented.

Here is a Storify of the latest tweets.


Is “¡Q’VIVA! The Chosen” a Sign of Better Things to Come for “LATINO” Programming?

It is what many are talking about, and not because we see JLO and Marc Anthony sharing a show together. It is "¡Q'VIVA! The Chosen" a new American-Idol style show that looks for top talent all over Latin America. The show is now available to US audiences, both on Univision and FOX.

What is the show about? Let them tell you:

¡Q’VIVA! The Chosen goes straight to the core and touches the heart of the people of Latin America, as it discovers its most authentic, genuine and most talented entertainers, and unites them in one amazing show.

Leading the journey to find The Chosen Ones are Creator and Executive Producer Simon Fuller, along with the iconic performers, Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony, and superstar director/choreographer, Jamie King. Between them, they will travel to 21 different Latin American countries and embark on a journey of a lifetime in search of ‘The Chosen’.

This promises to be the most remarkable search and the most extraordinary & authentic Latin American live event in history featuring world-class singers, musicians, dancers, acrobats and other extraordinary performers. ¡Q’VIVA! The Chosen gives the people of Latin America a once in a lifetime opportunity to showcase their undiscovered talent, while uniting on one stage, under one banner.

At a time when mainstream networks have been on the Latino Stereotype Bandwagon for years, here's hoping that ¡Q'VIVA! is a start. Sure, it might not be perfect, but it is a start of things to come.