Kony 2012: Viral video has 50 million views, mostly by teens

Forget Justin Bieber and Rihanna: This week the teenage crowd is obsessed with Joseph Kony, an African warlord responsible for vile acts against children in Uganda and surrounding countries.

That’s a shift.

The reason? Kony 2012 -- a video produced by Invisible Children, a small San Diego-based nonprofit, that suggests that thanks to the power of social media, people right here in America (and around the world) have the power to stop Joseph Kony -- if only they are willing to spread the word through Facebook and Twitter.

Whether Invisible Children will be able to bring down Joseph Kony is up for debate, but there’s no question that the group has been successful at getting the word out. As of Thursday, the video had been viewed 37 million times on YouTube, and 13 million times on Vimeo.


According to data collected by YouTube, the video is most popular among teenage girls ages 13 to 17, young men ages 18 to 24, and teenage boys ages 13 to 17.

Note to parents of teenagers: If you were surprised to hear your kid talking about a children’s army in Africa at the breakfast or dinner table this week, you are not alone.

Invisible Children launched Kony 2012 on Vimeo on Friday, where it got just 20 views on its first day.

On Monday, they loaded it up to YouTube and started to promote it to their network of partners through Facebook and Twitter.

It took another day for the video to truly catch on -- but by Tuesday the number of views started to climb steadily past 1 million, 2 million, 3 million. The slope steepened Wednesday and the number continues to grow.

Jason Russell, a co-founder of Invisible Children, responded to the exponential growth of the Kony 2012 video with another video titled “Wow. Thank You.”

“We are amazed,” he says. “We are amazed at your tenacity, your response; your forwarding abilities have been huge. It’s been epic. And we just want to thank you. Thank you for believing in the story we know is going to change the world.”


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