You may not like what I'm about to suggest here, because very likely you are one of hundreds of thousands millions of good people, over the last few days, who have watched, online, the video gone viral "KONY 2012" -- a 30 minute documentary exposing African warlord, Joseph Kony, and his 20 year reign of terror, against the children of Uganda.

If you've an ounce of humanity, learning about these beyond horrible atrocities would surely bring you to tears. If it did, you may have felt compelled, as suggested, to share the video on your favorite social network --  such as Facebook, Google+ or Twitter -- to then recruit everyone you know to the cause as well.

And dare I say that some of you have already joined KONY 2012 Cover the Night scheduled to take place in cities across the nation and perhaps, just perhaps, you have plunked down good money and ordered those cool bracelets contained in the KONY 2012 Kit.

If you have no idea what I am talking about, I promise you that somebody very close to you does, and has acted on at least one of the above action items. At this point if I gambled, which I don't, I'd be willing to make you a sizable wager to make my point.

The sharing of social media via social networks is a powerful new frontier and, like all new ventures, brings with it an enthusiasm and desire to seize the greatest opportunities, to make the greatest impact. Most of us who have seen this power, on any scale, understand the potential to make things happen. And because many of us believe that technology is literally changing the world,  and we're excited to be a part of it -- we are also vulnerable to ideas and causes that advocate doing just that -- changing the world via the Internet.

I'm not one to watch promotional videos, online, so I ignored the barrage of KONY 2012 postings on my various social networks, until I couldn't ignore them any longer. (That's the plan and it works.) Like so many, I was deeply moved, as I often am when I hear of such evils around the world.

I want it to stop! Surely there has to be something we can do!  Helplessness is a terrible predicament and leaves us feeling powerless.  But not this cause -- they have a BIG PLAN!  Hallelujah!  Look what we can accomplish, together! Just DO this, and this, and this...

But something in the back of my mind would not allow me to go full steam ahead with this project and cause. Honestly, I felt guilty. I didn't feel good about using my power to perpetuate something that I wasn't feeling.  This didn't make sense to me at first. We are talking about children here, and my heart was whispering SCAM! I tried to ignore this mind-conflict by looking past the continued postings...  until a Facebook friend posted a link that called into question the validity and legitimacy of KONY 2012.  And that's when I decided, enough.  I'm going to speak my mind and let the chips fall where they may.

I want this cause to be good, and just, and noble, and kind.  Like you, I want to be part of something that is wonderful, and amazing, and could truly affect the lives of countless children.  I so want in, but I can't ignore my initial gut feelings to be cautious and move slowly. However, I'm not going to apologize for these feelings, and if this turns out to be as great as purported I will celebrate with the masses!

I believe that the still small voice inside each of us speaks up for a reason. So I listened more intently until I knew what to do. And when I figured it out, I had a V8 moment, (Hopefully some of you will know what I'm talking about;) or rather, an epiphany!

KONY 2012 aside, if you happen to have teenagers in your home, this is such a great opportunity to teach and discuss the issue of Affinity Fraud, particularly in relation to the Internet.  Fortunately because I closely follow the LDS Newsroom, I see pretty much everything they post.  I recalled that a few weeks ago they posted about Affinity Fraud. I did not, however, read the article. I live in California, and the information about Affinity Fraud was for Utah Mormons. (sorry) Yup. That's what I decided so I could ignore that counsel. So stupid.

I've repented.

Anyway, after I decided to blog about this today, suddenly, that term affinity fraud came blasting across my mind -- and then I understood -- finally.

From LDS Newsroom: (Look for principles in this statement that can easily be applied to Internet relationships and in particular, how KONY is being marketed through Facebook, Google+ and Twitter friendships/associations -- and the use of celebrities to gain trust. Although information about Affinity Fraud is usually focused on church relationships, the elderly, etc... I firmly believe that the affinity principle can strongly be applied to the Internet environment.  If you haven't watched the video, you will need to now --  in order to make these connections.)
"Affinity fraud refers to investment scams that prey upon members of identifiable groups, such as religious or ethnic communities, the elderly, or professional groups. The fraudsters who promote affinity scams frequently are — or pretend to be — members of the group. They often enlist respected community or religious leaders from within the group to spread the word about the scheme by convincing those people that a fraudulent investment is legitimate and worthwhile. Many times, those leaders become unwitting victims of the fraudster's ruse. 
These scams exploit the trust and friendship that exist in groups of people who have something in common. Because of the tight-knit structure of many groups, it can be difficult for regulators or law enforcement officials to detect an affinity scam. Victims often fail to notify authorities or pursue their legal remedies, and instead try to work things out within the group. This is particularly true where the fraudsters have used respected community or religious leaders to convince others to join the investment."

Here are a few legitimate concerns about Invisible Children Inc., the non-profit company behind the KONY 2012that I have gathered on the Internet. I have NOT fact checked this information and will leave that up to you, if you desire to do so. My intention is to create affinity fraud awareness and use my concern about this project as a potential example. 

  • There are questions circulating about the legitimacy of Invisible Children Inc. 
  • Invisible Children Inc. admits that only 31% of donations go to actual project.  What do they do with all the rest of the money?
  • Invisible Children Inc. wrote off over 2 million dollars for travel expenses and film making cost, just last year.

Source: The Daily What: Kony 2012 Stop at Nothing
"The organization behind Kony 2012 — Invisible Children Inc. — is an extremely shady nonprofit that has been called ”misleading,” “naive,” and “dangerous” by a Yale political science professor, and has been accused by Foreign Affairs of “manipulat[ing] facts for strategic purposes.” They have also been criticized by the Better Business Bureau for refusing to provide information necessary to determine if IC meets the Bureau’s standards."  (Please read entire article HERE.)

2/8/12 UPDATE:    Rosebell Kagumire is a Ugandan blogger and editor at She is in the country currently. In this video she expresses her disagreements with that "silly video" and tells us exactly what is actually going on in 'her' country -- and what needs to be done to help.  She recorded this video for Al Jazeera stream program, covering the KONY 2012 video. You can follow her on Twitter @rosebellk and she will do her best to answer your questions.

From her blog:

"For the last many hours i have followed a campaign by Invisible Children NGO called KONY2012 that has gone viral getting more than 20 million hits on Youtube. I am a story teller and i know the danger of a single story . It is something many people can easily ignore especially if we are outsiders to the story.

This is the video i recorded late in the night. It’s longer than i would have wanted but i just wanted to put my views out there on a conflict I have covered as a journalist and a people I have worked among as a communications officer at Isis-WICCE. I don’t in any way think I represent views of Uganda like some comments i have seen. This is me talking about the danger of portraying people with one single story and using old footage to cause hysteria when it could have been possible to get to DRC and other affected countries get a fresh perspective and also include other actors."

Video: Rosebell Kagumire - My Response, from Uganda, to KONY 2012

"You shouldn't be telling my story if you don't believe that I also have the power to change what is going on....This video makes it look as if Americans are the only ones that can "save" us." Rosebell Kagumire

This is an extremely organized, calculated and well marketed campaign. You might even refer to it as slick.  Something this well orchestrated should be questioned -- regardless of the cause -- or the potential for doing great good. Release the guilt and act smart.

If you believe this is something to be concerned about LIKE this post to share it with others...

Kathryn Skaggs

Don't Miss WBMW's Last Post: Kirk Cameron "Out of Step" on Gay Marriage! Says Who?

UPDATE: As I find interesting/important articles I will add to this list of research resources. (newest on top)

3/18/12: VIDEO - Prime Minister of Uganda response to Kony2012 

"In the video, Mbabazi says, “One point made in the KONY 2012 video is undeniable—Joseph Kony is truly an evil [man]. He has been responsible for the death and mutilation of tens of thousands of people, most of whom were children.” However, he points out that, “The KONY 2012 campaign fails to make one crucial point clear—Joseph Kony is not in Uganda…Uganda People’s Defense Forces defeated the LRA in Uganda in 2006.”

Mbabazi says, “I must correct the mistaken impression created by the KONY 2012 video. Uganda is not in conflict. Uganda is a modern, developing country, which enjoys peace, stability and security. Only a couple of months ago, Lonely Planet declared Uganda as the best country in the world to visit in 2012.”

He closes the video with an invitation: “Come and see Uganda for yourself. You will find a very different place to that portrayed by Invisible Children.”" Social Times

‘Kony 2012′ Director Jason Russell Detained After ‘Meltdown’
"A co-founder of the group that produced a popular online video about fugitive African rebel leader Joseph Kony was detained by police in San Diego and hospitalized after “exhibiting bizarre behavior” while dressed only in his underwear, according to police." More perspective on Kony 2012 MARCH 9, 2012  (Must read)

A Good Cadence: Three Cups of Tea, Kony 2012, Transparency & Responsibility (highly recommend)

Invisible: A Movie Directors Thoughtful Response 

Project Diaspora - A Peace of my mind: Respect my agency 2012! (recommend)

theguardian - Kony 2012: what's the real story?

lifehacker: How to Determine If a Charity Like Kony 2012 Is Worth Your Money (recommend)

GiveWell - Giving 101: the basics (recommend)

The Dangers of the Stop Kony Campaign

Foreign Policy: Guest post: Joseph Kony is not in Uganda (and other complicated things)

Invisible Children Inc. Responds to Widespread Criticism of KONY 2012

The Problem With Invisible Children's "Kony 2012"

Washington Post: Invisible Children responds to criticism about ‘Stop Kony’ campaign

Newsroom: Affinity Fraud Address by Michael Otterson
"Those who practice affinity fraud mask their avarice with feigned affection and their greed with shows of generosity and concern. Where financial predators strike, they leave behind broken people, deep scars, fractured communities, fear and distrust. Fraud may not be a violent crime, but it does great violence to the victim’s life, happiness and sense of self-worth."


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