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By now, you've seen the "Kony 2012" video, or at least heard of it, and you've heard the criticisms. And whether you are a supporter or a detractor, you likely think the story's done, a passing fad lost already to shortened news cycles, fickle Twitter trends, and Facebook app archives. But that is not the case. Whether the newest chapters to the "Kony 2012" story will vindicate the effort remains to be seen. But no matter what the final outcome, there are many lessons to learn from "Kony 2012" -- from how to make a viral video and keep it up and running despite crushing traffic numbers, to how to run a successful campaign and move the world.
Kony 2012 went viral because this was an orchestrated war propaganda push. I think that the Kony 2012 campaign illustrates some very important things.
* Sadly, well-intentioned people will believe almost any type of war propaganda if you dress it up with sad music and images about protecting the children. (and this is exactly what Kony 2012 is - they want to justify the US military industrial complex engaging in Africa) Nevermind how incorrect the facts are, nevermind how disastorous this would be, if it makes people feel good about themselves, even obvious war-propaganda can succeed in fooling the masses.
* Businesses aren't the only ones looking to alter public opinion on social media. You see the hype with Facebook - businesses are promoting their Facebook URL on TV ads, you see dozens and dozens of businesses listed at http://www.buyfacebookfansreviews.com that do nothing other than promote Facebook pages. Now the government is trying to alter public opinion through these viral channels. That's something that well-intentioned people need to be looking out for.
* A lot of this interest in Africa by the US military industrial complex is standard profiteering (more weapons for sale, resource grabs, etc) but a big part of it is heading off China and Russia who have interests in the region. This is all part of a big global chess-game. We're heading towards an open conflict with some of these countries soon. They've been making threats about us going into Iran causing WWIII and at some point the US is going to be smack up against China and Russia and this is the wrong way to go
.* If you want to alleviate suffering and poverty in Africa, donate to reputable charities like Doctors without Borders and many others that will provide actual aid to people in need rather than advocating more weapons flooding into the region, which is the end result of what the the Kony 2012 folks want.