WBMW

KONY: Legit or Scam?

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 Ch16.org. 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...



tDMg
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



3/16/12 SHOCKING REPORT: 
‘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."

RosebellKagumire.com: 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."



Video: Kony 2012 - INVISIBLE CHILDREN

57 comments :

  1. The site is down at the moment, but visiblechildren.tumblr.com is a great resource for those questioning the legitimacy of this movement.

    Personally, I am strongly against the Kony 2012 movement as I think it seems to be a throwback to the 'let's save the savages' style of colonialism that never actually ended well for those communities we (the Western world) were trying to 'save'. Also Invisible Children has stated they the money people donate is often used to help fund the Ugandan Army, which is also known for committing war crimes such as violence and sexual assault on victims.

    Finally what Invisible Children is strongly suggesting should happen is a direct US military involvement in the Ugandan conflict. That didn't end well for Iraq, nor Afghanistan and nor I think in Libya. There are other (better) ways of dealing with Kony (who hasn't been seen alive in months anyway...).

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    1. Excellent points, Megan. Thanks for commenting.

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    2. "... should happen is a direct US military involvement in the Ugandan conflict ..."

      Did you know what there are oil resources in Uganda? That's all the US is up to.

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    3. Thanks as always Kathryn for a balanced viewpoint - I don't always agree with you but I appreciate your efforts to be fair to all sides in your blog.

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    4. And thank you for saying that, Megan. That means a lot. I try.

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  2. Thanks for speaking your mind. Terms like "international justice" and "colonialism" set off my spider senses immediately. All too often in the LDS community well intentioned folks knee/jerk without doing the proper research first.

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    1. Those are definite hot button terms for me as well. Besides LDS folks being vulnerable to all things meant to "do good", youth in general are particularly vulnerable to be exploited by these types of projects.

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  3. I'm still looking into all of this, but they released this information early this evening. http://s3.amazonaws.com/www.invisiblechildren.com/critiques.html

    My friend has been very involved in this organization and others for a long time and fully supports it. I trust her opinion.

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    1. Thank you, Gentri. I've added the link to the post. The more information the better.

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  4. I work with refugees from Uganda and the Congo.

    All I'm going to say is; they speak truth. This man needs to stop. They have seen horrible, horrible things, on behalf of that man.

    I'm doing this for my students. To be frank, anyone can say whatever they want about this organization. It doesn't change the fact that I know people who were directly affected; yes - one of my students was one of those child soldiers.

    I work for a non-profit...we need money to live too. A big chunk of that 70% is probably going to campaigning...and why shouldn't it? The point is to get the word out. To raise awareness. They have to pay people to make the hundreds and thousands of posters, t-shirts, and everything else they are trying to do with this campaign.

    People can think what they want. As LDS people, we are sometimes very critical of non-profits that aren't supported by the church...and for good reason. There's a lot of scams out there, and we need to be aware.

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    1. Thank you Catharine. I appreciate you taking the time to share your experience and opinion. There's no question that Joseph Kony needs to be stopped. I don't believe anyone is questioning that. We just need to make sure than innocent people are not exploited in the process and this is done in the best possible way.

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    2. I agree 110% Catharine. We SHOULD look into non-profit organizations to make sure our time, and money is being used wisely, and in Invisible Children's case IT IS! I am proud to say I have been with this organization over five years, campaigning for them, and raising awareness. They have done nothing but good. WBMW If you have any doubt of the validity of Invisible Children, and where their money goes simply take a look at their finances. www.invisiblechildren.com/financials They have nothing to hide.

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    3. Thank you, Sarah. I will add the link to the post.

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  5. Hey WBMW, Thank you for sharing your opinion. However, I would please welcome you to research further into this issue before promoting that it is an "affinity fraud" organization. The facts that you mention Invisible Children have admitted to are cited no where on their website and visiblechildren is a tumblr blog posting and in no way serves as a legitimate source. If you do further research, you will find that Invisible Children uses only 13% of their income for administration costs and 80% for program costs (not 30%). Also referring to Megan's comment, I want to rebuttle the misinformation that Invisible Children supports or funds the Ugandan army in any way. IC has NEVER funded the Ugandan army and does not support the human right abuses that they commit. However, strategizing with the Ugandan army on some issues IS necessary to be efficient in capturing Joseph Kony and beginning to provide peace to the region. Megan, Invisible Children is not based on the idea of "let's save the savages", 90% of the staff is Ugandan and they have a headquarters in Uganda. Some of the most influential Ugandan's have helped to build up the organization and Invisible Children ALWAYS promotes empowerment for the people, not degradement. In addition, if you have ever met a Ugandan person you know they are strong willed and brave. A Ugandan would not volunteer to help build up or be an advocate for an organization that in any way offends, degrades, or puts their people in danger.

    Sister Skaggs, you mentioned in your article that you heard a still small voice, perhaps the Holy Ghost earning you that this was a fraud organization and not to donate to it. I want to share with you that I have also felt the Holy Ghost, except it was not a still small voice, it was a stream of empowerment and peace coming over my entire body that literally brought me to tears and told me, "These children need help and Invisible Children is the way to help them." Ever since that feeling over 5 years ago, I have been constantly involved in taking the next step to create a sustainable future for the people of Uganda and Central Africa. Through Invisible Children's efforts, I have seen 11 Northern Ugandan schools re-built, hundreds of kids have fully funded scholarships and the supplies and teachers needed to gain a full education, rehabilitation centers built for the children escaping the LRA, and an entire network of early warning network towers built through Central Africa that allows small villages to communicate and warn each other when the LRA is close. That doesn't even begin to touch the surface of what this organization has accomplished in the last 7 years. This goes way beyond simply raising money and having people buy action kits so IC can collect a paycheck at the end of the day, that's the last thing we could care about! We just want people to be globally aware of Joseph Kony and the atrocities he is committing! Last week 99% of people had no idea who Kony was, and now at least 20 million people have watched the video and are aware on the situation, and this is ONLY the beginning to what we have planned to make a difference this year.

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    1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. However, you completely misread this post and in so doing have come to a completely wrong conclusion about what I am advocating here.

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    2. In what way did I misread the post? Are you not advocating that you have stumbled across certain articles that make you feel as if Invisible Children/Kony campaign is an affinity fraud?

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    3. Where in this entire post did I say that?

      My initial, gut reaction to the video was to question its authenticity. That's what I'm advocating. Nothing I have written concludes that I believe the KONY 2012 is a scam. However, because of a legitimate concern for its validity this is an excellent opportunity to discuss "affinity fraud", in general, and using this framework have some important conversations and encourage readers to be responsible and do their homework. I have added a number of links at the bottom of the post so that people can do just that.

      I stand by what I am encouraging in this post, with no qualms whatsoever.

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    4. I gathered that you are suggesting that it is indeed a scam. I would reword your entry if you do not want people to take it that way.

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    5. I also took that you thought it was a scam. If that wasn't your intention at all then you very well should reword your post! Amen to the top comment on this little thread!

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    6. Carly and Ashley:

      My intention is to have my readers consider the possibility that KONY 2012 is a scam. So that would be a correct reading of my post. I did not, however, say that it was a scam. Very different. Introducing the issue of "Affinity Fraud" and encouraging you to ask question about kony is a legitimate suggestion. You owe this to yourself and anyone else you might encourage to participate.

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    7. I agree with this blogger that she went out of her way at the beginning of the post to say that she does not enforce an opinion either way regarding Koby 2012. She is just pointing out that we should not just jump into a "slick" ad with both feet. Whether Affinity Fraud pertains to this campaign or not, I am glad to have learned about this type of tactic. I still retain many marketing and sales tactics that I learned in college and afterwards in sales training courses. Without being aware, you cannot make your own decisions. You decisions may seem like they are your own, but you are just a mouse being manipulated either by lab workers or exterminators. This is a great resource for delving into Koby 2012. Check the link regarding BBB status. Or check the above post where it is stated that 80% of the money goes to the "cause" or "program". If the records are public domain, then where is the link to substantiate? I'll definitely be looking into this campaign. If legit, I'll do my part. If not, I'll do my part in warning others.

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    8. I read the entire post and I was able to understand that you did not say outright that KONY 2012 is a scam. I saw it as a "teaching moment" to bring attention the fact that there are scams out there and we should do our homework before making any choices for or against. It is not much different than taking the opportunity to discuss alcohol with our children in the wake of a drunk driving accident in our hometown. That doesn't mean that I think my children are drinking, I'm just taking the opportunity to discuss an important topic because I can use an example that is affecting our community now. Talking about it is a teaching tool. KONY 2012 is being talked about everywhere and I believe you are using as a tool to inform. I appreciate your information about affinity fraud because I had never heard of that before. I thank you for making me aware of something to watch out for as I try to make my decisions after doing my own homework.

      DM

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  6. The amazing thing about this organization is how much it has changed my life and helped me grow as a person. As the church often teaches, service is a very vital part of being a strong member of the church. I never understood that quite as well as I do now. Last August, Invisible Children held a conference called the Fourth Estate. 650 youth from across the world were hand selected to attend this conference in San Diego for 4 days. I was lucky enough to be chosen and my prayers were answered. 650 of us all came to this conference wanting to achieve and learn one thing: How are we going to change the world? Invisible Children taught us just that. They brought in motivational speakers from everywhere; the people on the front line of humanitarian crisis. Sean Stephenson, Jermey Rifkin, Shervin Pishver, Tom Shadyac, and Gary Haugen were among the dozen people that spoke at this conference. I had never experienced anything so inspiring in my life and I wish I could put it into perfect words for you to fully grasp. My life was forever changed after those four days. I was empowered to not only learn but truly grasp and believe that I can accomplish anything I want to in life, that I can truly change the world, that I WILL change the world and do better, that I had a purpose and I mattered so much. Every person in that room was greatly empowered that day, and the connections and friends I made that weekend are still strong today. Which is great because all of them are positive influences in my life even if they are not LDS, which is sometimes difficult to find at the age I am at. Does an organization that organizes and supports youth empowerment sound like a fraud to you? There is so much more this organization has given me then a simple 30 minute video and a plea for money like so many are under the impression is their purpose. There is much more to them!

    You say that as a collective LDS community, we should be speaking to our teens about Kony 2012 and the issue at hand. You're 100% right, we should be speaking to the LDS youth... about how they should join this organization! It will empower them to be globally aware, provide service, stay humble, and keep strong morals in all areas of the word of wisdom! This is a revolution. We will change the world. We are not after your money. We are after justice and peace.

    Once again, I ask that you please check your facts and research both sides of the issue before writing and promoting a blog post that could be damaging to a postive organization:
    http://s3.amazonaws.com/www.invisiblechildren.com/critiques.html

    The above link will also provide you with information regarding taxes and where there money goes to.

    Thank you for your time, if you still are doubting this organization or movement, I'd love to talk to you further in the matter.
    elizabethjeann@yahoo.com

    Here are some legitimate links that will provide you more information:
    www.lracrisistracker.com
    www.invisiblechildren.com
    http://s3.amazonaws.com/www.invisiblechildren.com/critiques.html

    -Elizabeth Engle

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    1. I'm happy to hear that your experience with Invisible Children Inc. has been a positive one. Thank you for the links.

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  7. I appreciate the effort to question...and even more appreciate the links above. After viewing all articles, including numerous comments on each side, I have to say I fully support what the organization seeks...to bring justice to Kony. Never did I see anything about money to Uganda's questionable leadership, or to wipe out Kony's group. Just bring them to accountability. My hope would be that future awareness will allow us to help avoid the atrocities against children...from any side of a conflict. This isn't about colonialism, it's about those kids. And even if the UN's numbers are 1/2 what is claimed, 15,000 abducted children is beyond horrendous. I don't tend to jump on band wagons, but this group really gives me hope that good can be achieved, and hopefully soon.

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    1. Good for you that you did your research and now can feel good about supporting their cause -- and recruiting other to do so, too. That's all I'm encouraging people to do. Personally, before I advocate for any cause and ask others to join me, I owe it to all of us to do my homework. : )

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  8. I understand why people may be questioning this organization. However,this is not a new organization. These efforts have been going on for YEARS. The new campaign "Kony 2012" has become "viral" because that has been the goal. Monday the video was released and all the volunteers were encouraged to "make Joseph Kony famous" Well, obviously that goal has been accomplished and anyone can view the video and pass it on for FREE. The kits you are encouraged to buy cost money to put together. They include a booklet about Kony 2012, posters, stickers, bracelets, and a t shirt. I doubt that Invisible Children is profiting from this.
    I know that if any of your children were abducted, raped, mutilated, and/or forced to carry a gun and murder innocent people, you would want to do something about it! We are fortunate to have a legal system here in the U.S. but Uganda isn't as fortunate.
    I'm asking people to reconsider their opinions and research for yourself the validity of this organization. Don't just take someones word for it because they are your friend. Thank you for the opportunity to voice my opinion.

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  9. I think it's just important to properly do your research before posting on an outlet where you have great influence over a lot of people. When I first read your post I found it shining a negative light on Invisible Children as an organization. But now that I know your intentions were just to present another point of view to people, I understand.

    Whether people support Invisible Children as an organization or not (and although I'm sure when the proper research is done, majority of people will support them)... We can all agree that what Joseph Kony is doing is wrong and sickening, and that no child should have to live in fear of being raped or kidnapped every day. It would be greatly appreciated if despite support of the organization, you spread the word about Joseph Kony and keep the focus on him. There is SO much people can do to stop Kony that doesn't include donating money! :) Share the video or just let people know about Kony and his crimes. Last week 99% had no idea about this conflict and now millions of people know! We should keep it going! No one should stay under the radar for these crimes.

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    1. Posting the video here on this blog, I believe, should qualify, per your "share the video" desire.

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  10. I have a cousin who lives in Uganda and she helps run a branch of Invisible Children out there. Take a look at her blog. IC has set up schools there for children.

    http://www.ugandamkstyle.blogspot.com/2011/10/beauty-and-pain-northern-uganda-and-lra.html

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    1. Thank you for sharing her link. I enjoyed reading her latest post. Very touching. : )

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  11. I am a practicing Mormon, holding a current Temple Recommend. I often wonder if we are really members of Christ's true church these days. I see powerful men in white shirts governing HUGE funds of this church and building HUGE shopping malls, and then that same organization seem to compel us to condemn a movement like KONY 2012. I wonder.... When Christ comes, will he come to all of us white shirted members practicing the best we can? Or will he come to the little children like the ones who are abducted by the likes of Kony? As members, I think we are often blinded by our perception of what we think it really going on in the world. We actually live in the best times ever on the earth, not the worst. Things are actually getting better, not worse. Poverty is across the glob is lower than ever before. Violent crime is lower than ever before, life expectancy is higher than ever before, literacy and education is higher than ever before. As members, we are taught that things are getting worse. Its just not true. Be part of something good. Instead of sitting in our fine Utah homes and criticizing this campaign, lets get on board and think outside out little Mormon box for once. It really is a pretty small box!

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    1. OMG!!!! Thank you sooooo very much for your comment! After reading the original blog post I was so upset, maybe simply because the poster is mormon and can say whatever she wants while sitting in her pretty little mormon box! I would LOVE to see her post something on the church funds and where they are spent. Because there really isn't much information out there because the LDS church doesn't have open books for all to see. Why is that I wonder? why is only 2% of all tithing money spent on humanitarian aid but 5 billion dollars was spent on a shopping mall/condos in Utah? Which do you/any of us think Christ is going to see as more important? I think too often Americans think that we are somehow better than people in other parts of the world. We are NOT better! We are ALL children of GOD no matter what country, color, religion, or creed. If these were my children, I would want people to listen and help. Even if there wasn't anything in it for them, other than doing the right thing....signed: recent x-mormon after 35 years activity

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    2. ACS:

      You would be mistaken to interpret anything I wrote in this post that infers that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints opposes Invisible Children Inc. and what they do. Not even close.

      I do not speak for the Church. This is a personal blog and what I write are my opinions. I take full responsibility for what I write. I do, however, try very hard to represent my faith, and what the Church teaches, in a credible way.

      IMO, an attack against the Church, and its members, is completely inappropriate. I came very close to not approving your comment because of it. That's not okay here.

      I have a very different view of how the Church and its members, in general, view the world. I share the perspective of living prophets on this...

      Russel M. Nelson, 2011 April General Conference:

      "Our beloved President Thomas S. Monson has given us his prophetic witness. He said: “I testify to you that our promised blessings are beyond measure. Though the storm clouds may gather, though the rains may pour down upon us, our knowledge of the gospel and our love of our Heavenly Father and of our Savior will comfort and sustain us and bring joy to our hearts as we walk uprightly and keep the commandments.”

      President Monson continued: “My beloved brothers and sisters, fear not. Be of good cheer. The future is as bright as your faith.”

      To President Monson’s powerful declaration I add my own. I testify that God is our Father. Jesus is the Christ. His Church has been restored to the earth. His truth, covenants, and ordinances enable us to overcome fear and face the future with faith! I so testify in the sacred name of Jesus Christ, amen."

      I am sincerely sorry that you see this post as anything but common sense.

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    3. carly:

      Why would you be upset with someone (even an active Mormon) who is encouraging you to be smart -- and for very legitimate reasons? If you feel good about a cause and have researched it, to find it is worthy of your efforts, I do not see the problem allowing and encouraging others to do the same. That's what responsible people do.

      "Affinity Fraud" is serious business that needs more awareness. This is a good time to have this conversation and IF Invisible Children Inc. is everything so many people think it to be, great! Count me in! But first, allow me to check it out myself and encourage others to do so, too.

      If you don't like the way the Church uses its funds, don't give. It's that simple.

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    4. Carly, I would say that you do not know much about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. We spend our money on helping the needy, 3rd world countries, building churches and temples, sending missionaries our to teach. We are not buying shopping malls with it. I dont understand how it is 'Christ-like' to talk bad about us even it you dont agree with the church. Anyone that comes to us in need we give them what they need be it money, rent, gas, food, diapers, whatever! LDS people are good people, as are Christens, We dont think we are better or any more important than any other person. She did not mention the LDS church having a view on this, because she is LDS and you did not agree with what she had to say you brought our church into it. She was simply advising everyone to be wise and do research before handing $$$ out. This was a fantastic blog, even if i supported the KONY2012 I would appreciate that you were advising people to be cautious. thank you so much!

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  12. Thank you. This was on our news last night with a warning to be careful and do our homework. Is it fraud? I don't know. Is it an organization I will choose to support financially? I don't know; I would have to do more research. I am very particular about the charities I choose to affiliate and become involved with.

    I was told yesterday they are planning to show it in school to our middle schoolers next week--guess I'll be watching and discussing it with my kids this weekend, so they can be prepared to discuss it intelligently, both from the political point of view and an economic one.

    I've been well aware of affinity fraud since I was a teen and many members of our stake were caught up by it. My father explained to us why he wasn't investing and the things we needed to watch out for and be aware of. I am so thankful for that.

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    1. I've heard through a couple people that the story was picked up on tv, although I haven't seen a report yet.

      I'm quite surprised to hear that your local middle school is going to be showing it. Personally, as a parent, I would be quite upset if that was going on in my community. IMO, that is crossing the line. I would probably approach the school board. Advocacy should have no place in our public school system. Clearly, in this situation, the children are being exploited by administration. If a teacher is acting alone, they should be disciplined.

      You have a good and responsible dad. ; )

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  13. I had never heard about this until I saw your post in my reader, then as soon as I got in the car to run errands this morning I heard about this:

    http://www.theblaze.com/stories/is-there-more-to-the-invisible-children-story-in-uganda-than-meets-the-eye/

    Something that may have been started as a good, legitimate charity organization may have been politicized over the last few years. It's very likely that there is more than meets the eye and something is not right here considering the US Military has been in Uganda for months now. It may have been revitalized this year as an attempt to legitimize our current presence in Uganda by the current administration.

    I'm afraid that a lot of people mistake "non-profit" organizations for "charities". They are not the same thing. Non-profits can pay ridiculous salaries and have fancy assets and still not "profit" from the income. Charities usually pay their employees very little compared to their non-charity counterparts so that as much as the income can be put towards the purpose of their charity (church run hospitals, schools, church service mission programs etc.)

    Planned Parenthood is a non-profit organization and look at the damage that they have done (I'm not comparing PP with Invisible Children, I'm just showing the difference between non-profit and charity.)

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    1. There are clearly enough reasons for people to at least, stop -- and take a closer look before they give themselves 100% to KONY 2012. I really feel that we all owe it to ourselves and to the friends and family that we would want to share this with. Thank you for your thoughts.

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  14. The invisible children organization has recently posted a web page answering all questions about criticism.

    http://s3.amazonaws.com/www.invisiblechildren.com/critiques.html

    There is always skepticism with any mass media event. Conspiracy theorist say that the U.S. government knew about the 911 attacks before they happened. The government really allowed a terrorist attack to take place that coasted the U.S. thousands of lives and billions of dollars? I don't think so.

    You are just a critique. Their financial reports are available online(It is illegal to falsify external financial documents). They are audited by an external firm (which is also LAW). They do pass the GAAP(generally accepted accounting principles)standards. They explain that their money is not only for distributed to the direct relief, but also to the awareness campaign, which does coast millions of dollars to promote and is proving to be quite effective. They admit that Kony is no longer in Uganda, but they are still interested in capturing and litigating him for the many war crimes he has committed. The IC also provide rehabilitation for the children that were abducted by the LRA and they also finance future development for the people of Uganda and surrounding countries. ABSOLUTELY NONE OF THE MONEY DONATED GOES TO THE UGANDA GOVERNMENT. They work with international relief organizations to maintain a stable and effective relief effort. They are also relying on African citizens to find solutions to rebuild their nations. (so the 'white-savior' isn't an issue). We pay the president $450,000 dollars a YEAR for the rest of his life to lead our nation. If you combine the CEO and Co-founders of this organization salary together, it doesn't equal that of the presidents, or many other government officials.

    These people have done their homework, maybe you should too? You admit yourself that you were a critique from the start. If you want to find flaws, you will. Everyone has them. I live in Utah and I swear Mormons are always the first to jump on the hate train. If we don't join you guys, we are shunned. The LDS church has it's flaws too. You think it's right that your tithing is funding the building of City Creek Mall in downtown Salt Lake City. Just guess how much money the LDS church has put into this mall....? 3 BILLION dollars. WOW. charity or non-profit organization? I think I also remember hearing rumors about them funding government campaigns a while back? Ouch. Maybe you should tell your church to take that money and put it towards a humanitarian cause??

    Let's not forget the main message here. Their cause and efforts are ethical and should be admired. It's more than you have accomplished today. Please put down that Deseret Newspaper, or whatever propaganda you are reading about affinity fraud...or at least apply it to the LDS church, since they are the ones that wrote it..Thanks

    World Peace

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    1. I am not a critic of IC at this time. However, I am taking a critical look at a large organization requesting ME to join their cause and support them with my time, actions, words, money, etc… and invite those nearest and dearest to me to do the same.

      I'm stunned that so many of the IC recruits are taking such a negative approach to those they are asking to join them, if they dare to question the validity of the invitation. As many have voiced, they've been involved with the cause for years -- 'us' we just heard about it.

      Sadly I feel that your response/approach to those who legitimately are asking questions is, regardless of the cause, becoming very unattractive to me personally. Thankfully, there are more than enough ways, other than IC, to help the children of Uganda, if I so choose.

      Attacking the Church or its members is not allowed on my blog. Your personal feelings abut the Church have nothing to do with the subject of this post.

      I stand with, who knows how many, of likely every religion, color, race, etc. in questioning the KONY 2012 legitimacy and asking the question: Could this be affinity fraud? Is this a scam? That is our right and the action of responsible citizens. And insulting those you disagree with is quite contrary to achieving "world peace".

      I continue to welcome anyone who, respectfully, would like to assist in sharing positive information for those who are wanting to learn more about IC -- either way.

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  15. I have seen the video being sent around the internet, but have not watched it. I did see a small bit on the CBS News tonight; they only showed a boy saying he wanted to die rather than live like this. They also stated that only $3 million had actually made it to the services they represent. I have no money to give so its a moot point for me, but if I could, I definitely would look to see if there were other ways to get more money to the situation. The 900-form says there are only 45 actual employees; that's a lot of administrative costs to me, especially since their way of getting the word out is a video they could post for free on YouTube. "A fool and his money are soon parted." A person is foolish for giving to *any* charity without doing their due diligence.

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  16. Found your blog through my friend Emmy's tweet. Thank you for this post. I too had an immediate "pause" when this movement exploded. I started researching at once, and although I know you can find "sources" to support any viewpoint, and validate your perspective - ultimately, after learning as much as you can from both perspectives, you have to go with how you feel. I certainly have felt less inclined to join this movement as time has gone on, and I have continued to research and read.

    I'm sorry so many people have felt the need to react so negatively to your suggestion that they educate themselves further before making a commitment to support this cause. It is also sad how people have had to bring the LDS faith into the debate, and use it as a platform to preach their disdain for the church. I for one appreciate your candor, as well as your testimony and willingness to share it when questioned by others.

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    1. Thank you, Xazim. I appreciate your very kind words. Nice to know that indeed you, too, listened to the "still small voice" and decided to research this cause. Smart!

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  17. People are bringing the LDS church into the equation because the blogger is a Mormon blogger. Her main objectives address LDS questions and philosophies. It makes sense that readers after witnessing her skepticism on the Kony 12 campaign, question the hypocrisy behind her giving money to the church. If she is so skeptical and hears "a still small voice" tell her this is scam, then why is she donating money to a church that doesn't spend 100% of their money to charity (i.e. City Creek).

    Don't get me wrong, I am an active Mormon and I have no criticism towards the allocations of the church, but these people (her blog readers) have a point. It would seem, because IC is not founded by the church, some Mormons are going to be skeptical where their money is going. The blogger's criticism that they only donate 30% of their revenue to the actual mission is hypocritical to say the least. The church obviously spends money outside of charity.

    As far as affinity fraud, I think the blogger is missing the point. Affinity fraud was raised because of the multi-marketing pyramid schemes occurring in Mormon communities. Ward members would get other ward members to pay into the pyramid scheme. I think the Kony 12 scenario is not even comparable.

    What irks me about this post, is the fact that she validates her feelings of skepticism by saying the "still small voice" confirmed that for her. Whether or not that is true, I don't think a blog, even a blog where you represent the church, hence the blog name "A Well-Behaved Mormon Woman", should persuade readers to believe Kony 12 is a scam by exploiting and using the "still small voice". The author loses credibility for me when she obviously has not done her research and comes off as hypocritical.

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    1. "Affinity Fraud" is a global problem. This issue has absolutely nothing to the with the Church. I've taken the opportunity to apply the over-arching principles and apply them to the online community -- which works.

      My reference to the "still small voice" meaning my conscience,(you have one two) merely helped me make a connection to why KONY 2012 could potentially be fraudulent, not that it is. You misunderstood, or did not take the time to analyze my suggestion.

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  18. Rosebell makes alot of very good points in her video. This war and conflict is in no way simple, it has very deep roots and is complex. IC has no claims to it being simple and encourages people to do further research into the war. In fact, IC has a few documentaries that go more in depth into the issue. I think it's very important to realize that the 1) Kony2012 video was made to be a viral video and 2) The target audience for this video was the youth. It being targeted towards youth is a huge reason it's more simplified. Honestly, how do you fit 26 years and 3,000 hours of footage into 30 minutes? You can't, so you cover the most important facts that give people enough information to want to get involved, get educated, and take action. Simplicity and emotional engagement are both things that are needed to engage the hearts and minds of people. After they are engaged, we can move forward.

    In Rosebells video she also states, '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.'

    I defiantly understand what she is saying here. After all, it is all to common for American's and other countries across the world and celebrities coming into Africa and giving away free food or clean water, and take all the credit for saving africa and doing good. While taking no time to address what their opinion is, what their voice is, or what they think would be best. IC learned this quickly and recognized what previous organizations have done in the past... and ever since have strived to do everything BUT try and be a "savior" and take their voice from them. This is why 95% of our staff is Ugandan and African. (You can view IC staff list here: http://www.invisiblechildren.com/our-team.html)

    All the programs they have built have been from their opinions of what they think is best for their region. Also, IC launched a bracelet campaign with 5 different stories of children abducted or affected directly by the LRA. A video about the bracelet campaign can be watched here: http://vimeo.com/10991224

    All in all, this organization is about empowerment. This is why they're so big on helping build and fund schools in Northern Uganda, they believe that Ugandan's DO have the power to change it and IC wants to give them the tools to do so! They believe in letting THEM have the voice, after all they're the ones who have had to live through this. Who would they be to tell them what they need? There's a reason why the US military is teaming up with the Ugandan military instead of completely ignoring them and going in and infiltrating all by themselves---IC wants us all to work together.

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    1. You imply that you are IC "staff". I find this statement in your comment somewhat disturbing, as it borders on exploitation:

      "The target audience for this video was the youth. It being targeted towards youth is a huge reason it's more simplified."

      Some might say "dumbed down", which if many youth were aware of such a tactic on their behalf, I dare say might be offended. I would. This is why discussing "affinity fraud" between parents and youth is so important. Our "youth" must learn to be skeptical enough to research anyone or anything that is target marketing to them specifically, exactly because of these types of tactics. And IC should not be offended by this encouragement thinking do so is a negative -- if they really want to, as you say, "empower" them.

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  19. It's been very interesting to read the entire article and comments that followed . . . obviously there are many and varied opinions on the subject. I think the Author Kathryn Skaggs expresses many valid opinions, concerns and points. I just wanted to add this additional link from CNN, authored by a Ugandan citizen, TMS "Teddy" Ruge who writes and lectures frequently on Africa's current cultural situation. He makes a valid point about the influence of social media in current world affairs and the power (for positive / or negative impact) of it's influence.

    http://www.cnn.com/2012/03/12/world/africa/kony-2012-tms-ruge-opinion/index.html

    "More children die of malaria, diarrhea, and nodding disease in northern Uganda on a daily basis than the monthly average of Kony's 25 years of killing. Where's the slick viral video for those children?"

    The take away - we need to exercise caution and do our own due diligence and research before we just jump on "someone's" bandwagon.

    The above article makes reference to this article -

    http://edition.cnn.com/2012/03/09/world/africa/kony-2012-q-and-a/index.html?iref=storysearch

    which documents that Kony is not currently in Uganda, nor has he been for many years, he ALREADY is the International Criminal Courts "most wanted man". One would have to argue that "KONY 2012" will draw resources away from more effective charity organizations that address current and ongoing more sever need in Uganda while reinforcing the idea that Africans are helpless and that Westerners must intervene to save them.

    Just my perspective . . .

    Kristin

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    1. Thank you, Kristin. I appreciate you taking the time to add to the conversation and provide more information.

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  20. Before you go writing the word "Scam" and "gut feel" in your posts, you should do your research!

    http://vimeo.com/38344284 here is a video explaining some of this bloggers concerns. The biggest part of this campaign is to raise awareness about the atrocities of Kony and to let the legistlatures in our country know that we care about what happens to people even if it doesn't directly affect our overall welfare. The guy is real! I know, I have seen his destruction in Uganda. That should be the focus. I commend them for dedicating their lives to a cause.

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    1. Please see video I just posted above. The Prime Minister of Uganda is trying to educate all of us on the true 'current' condition in his country and tells us that the KONY 2012 video misrepresents the problems in his country. I have gone out of my way to make sure there is equal representation regarding IC available for those who would like to research and decide for themselves the legitimacy of IC. Thank you for sharing your link -- those interested are free to pursue it.

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