Kony 2012 is about a conflict in an African country that’s more than two decades old, spun into a documentary that’s 30 minutes long. It’s not exactly the typical formula for a viral video, but the film became the most viral video of all time, tallying more than 100 million views in its first six days online as Justin Bieber, Oprah and millions of others shared it. Through its rapid rise, Kony 2012 brought attention to the plight of Ugandans under the hands of guerrilla leader Joseph Kony, who has abducted more than 60,000 children and converted them into foot soldiers in his Lord’s Resistance Army.
But for all the horrors the film showed in a part of the world from which news is often scarce, some critics derided it for its self-congratulatory message. Invisible Children, the San Diego–based NGO that produced the film, faced criticism for its high overhead costs, and those outraged over the film took heat for being “slacktivists” about the conflict. But it’s undeniable that Kony 2012 set a new bar for all things viral.