THE PRODUCERS of an Internet video about the African warlord Joseph Kony have already proven one of their main points. Social media, the film’s narrator proclaims at the outset, are “changing the way the world works. The game has new rules.”
True enough: In the first seven days after its posting on March 7, “Kony 2012” was viewed more than 112 million times, according to the Visible Measures blog — making it the most explosive viral video phenomenon in history. An extraordinary amount of fresh attention has been focused on the effort to hunt down a man who, over the past quarter-century, has abducted and enslaved tens of thousands of children in Uganda and three other African countries. Notwithstanding the inevitable Internet backlash, this is a good thing.
Produced by a nonprofit group called Invisible Children, the film explains — in terms tailored to a 5-year-old — how Mr. Kony terrorized children in northern Uganda, who for years fled their villages at night to avoid abduction. Captured boys were made to fight; girls became sex slaves. Though he was the first suspect indicted by the International Criminal Court, in 2005, and the Obama administration dispatched 100 special operations forces last year to assist in the hunt for him, Mr. Kony remains at large — probably in the Orientale province of Congo or in the Central African Republic.