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Kony 2012 Scam

Updated on March 10, 2012

Now, in the past few days, if you've been on YouTube then you've probably noticed that Kony 2012 has went viral, and has just under 70 million views. Whilst I'm not going to delve into the politics of the campaign (to be honest, there's so much BS from either side), I will stand out from the crowd and say that I personally don't care for the video.

As selfish as it sounds, I'm finding it hard enough to get myself a job, and that's with an excellent BSc (Hons) and MSc thanks to the financial turmoil in the UK, and as such, donating money for over seas charities is the last thing on my mind. What does annoy me though is when I see that people are clearly being scammed. Invisible Children, the makers of Kony 2012 are doing this in 2 ways.

Firstly, their income. Did you know that out of all the money that they receive in donations, only 32% is sent to those that actually need it (including running costs for their campaigns)? The following quote is from Grant Oyston: "Invisible Children has been condemned time and time again. As a registered not-for-profit, its finances are public. Last year, the organization spent $8,676,614. Only 32% went to direct services (page 6), with much of the rest going to staff salaries, travel and transport, and film production. This is far from ideal, and Charity Navigator rates their accountability 2/4 stars because they haven’t had their finances externally audited. But it goes way deeper than that."

Now, I'm not an economist, but when a not for profit charity skims 68% off the top for themselves, then something is certainly rotten here. I honestly don't understand how a group can be so corrupt in this manner. Now, don't get me wrong, Kony is despicable, and needs to be stopped, but supporting Invisible Children is not the way forward. Interestingly, it's been speculated that the money raised from the Kony 2012 website is working on a profit basis. Allegedly, when you buy a kit from the site, or other products, none of that is sent to Uganda. Rather, they'll keep the money, and hope that people Google Kony and make a donation that way (which supposedly will make it to Uganda), as well as buying more products of course.

Secondly though is the way that this whole project has went viral. It's common knowledge that when people see that others are behind a project, they want to be part of it to in order to show their support. In terms of YouTube, when people see a view count rising, they'll want to support it and pass it onto their friends. However, when it comes to this video in particular, something seems to be out of place with the mobile view count, as shown in the photo below.

I may be wrong, but to me nearly 22 million views in the space of five days seems nigh on impossible, especially when the YouTube, Facebook and Twitter views pale in comparison to the mobile views. Could these all really be legitimate?

In my personal opinion, no they aren't. In all honesty, I think these are fake mobile views generated by a bot to help promote the video. Why would they do that though? Well, going back to my point above, when people see that others are behind it, they'll want to be a part of it too. The thing is, people are being lulled into a false sense of security since this is inflating the numbers of people that have actually watched the film. Linked to this is the amount of likes that video has received. Now, I may sound cynical, but since they've rocketed with mobile views, there's a good chance that they may have also used a YouTube bot to give them these likes.

In essence, it's a shody practice by the Invisible Children. To make matters worse, they really are making a fortune from this with people giving healthy donations. My opinion is that you should donate to a more worthy charity, and not one that keeps 68% of the takings for themselves. Not even the Mafia would take such a large cut.


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