Kony 2012: The story behind the video which went viral


Joseph Kony

You may have seen celebrities such as Nicki Minaj, Rihanna or Justin Bieber tweeting about Kony 2012.

The video aims to highlight atrocities which charity Invisible Children claims were committed by African rebel leader, Joseph Kony.

It's been viewed more than 84 million times and has raised the profile of its creator Jason Russell.

Following subsequent media coverage, Jason was admitted to hospital.

Who is Jason Russell?

Jason Russell is the co-founder of the charity Invisible Children, the organisation behind the video.

Jason Russell
Image caption Jason Russell co-founded charity Invisible Children

He set it up in 2004 after visiting the African country of Uganda with some of his friends.

He says he decided to try to raise awareness about the plight of child soldiers in the country.

Jason put the skills he learnt from film school into making videos, many of them highly produced, for the charity.

The Kony 2012 video was released in early March and since then, Jason's appeared on various talk shows to promote the campaign.

Following his hospitalisation last week, his wife said he was being treated for a form of psychosis, brought on by "extreme exhaustion, stress and dehydration".

Who is Joseph Kony?

Joseph Kony leads the Lord's Resistance Army, a rebel group which has operated out of central Africa for several decades.

Joseph Kony
Image caption Joseph Kony is accused of war crimes in Africa

He's accused of kidnapping children, arming them and forcing them to fight and is wanted by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for war crimes.

Even though the Kony video focuses on Uganda, the LRA no longer works out of the country.

Instead it operates across other African countries including South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central African Republic.

His exact whereabouts are unknown.

In October 2011, a small number of US troops were deployed to central Africa to help local forces catch him.

Why has the video been criticised?

Since the Kony video went viral there's been scrutiny of charity Invisible Children and the issues it's raising.

Kony screening in Uganda
Image caption The Kony film has also been screened in Uganda

Some critics, like Uganda's Prime Minister Amama Mbabazi, think the video simplifies a complicated human rights issue.

He's said the video wrongly gives the impression that Uganda is still at war.

There are also claims Invisible Children spends a large proportion of its funds on glossy videos, rather than on-the-ground charity work.

What does Invisible Children say?

The CEO of Invisible Children, Ben Keesey has addressed criticism of their videos.

He says the reason they make "compelling movies and films" is because they want to "connect brand new people to the issue of the LRA so we have more and more people invested in seeing an end to the violence."

He admits it's been difficult to read some of the comments about the 29-minute movie but denies the campaign is "fly-by-night."

For critics of the way it spends its money, the charity says all of its audited financial statements, tax returns and annual reports are available to download from its website.