Viral Deception and Manipulation: Kony 2012

Viral Deception and Manipulation: Kony 2012

Kony 2012 is an example of how misleading information can be virally spread online. The video reached over 100 million views and gained large amounts of public attention. It even attempted to organise large scale protests to further boost awareness. 


The key problem with this being that it was speading false information. Kony was actually driven out of Uganda in 2006, but the film actively promotes Kony as a contemporary issue. In addition, the film is very emotionally manipulative of the viewer. A large portion of the film focuses on Jason and his son. 

While the Kony 2012 video is a warning of the risks that social media plays in the viral spread of misinformation. It does also show that it is possible to gain viral support for causes and movements. However, at the same time it also highlights the difficulties in turning online activism into offline activism.

In reflection

I doubt very much the success of the Kony 2012 video can be easily replicated by future film makers. One of the key reasons it was so successful was due to the message that social media can change the world and I would argue that people are much more cynical to that idea. We have seen and experienced the negatives of social media.

Kony 2012 is still a fantastic example for the potential of misinformation to be virally spread user to user. While the fact people wanted to engage and campaign, at least online, was admirable. When the video was shown in a screening to people in Uganda it resulted in violence and anger due to the content.

Before you hit share it is worth remembering the example of Kony 2012 and to double check viral information before contributing to the spread of false information online.