Citizens Against Social Media Propaganda is reaching out to call attention to what we feel is a growing threat: the use of online social media by institutions of power for the manufacturing of consent among the masses. With the recent "viral" Kony 2012 video, and the subsequent troubling themes exposed about the group Invisible Children, who produced the video, it appears there is an ulterior motive to their mission of bringing Joseph Kony to justice. While Kony is a terrible man who used children as soldiers, he has reportedly not been operating in that region of Africa since 2006. Yet Invisible Children is calling on Obama in an open letter to send more U.S. troops to Africa for the purpose of finding Kony. Major funding for Invisible Children comes from Evangelical institutions such as The Christian Community Foundation and the National Christian Foundation. These groups also provide funding for such entities as Focus On The Family, Havest Evangelism, and others. This is significant because the primary lure utilized by the Kony 2012 film is the fact that Kony recruited and abducted children to serve on the LRA, or to torture and kill them. While this is true, it is also true that the Ugandan government of Yoweri Museveni, in power since 1986, has been cited by Amnesty International as having forcibly removed thousands of people from their homes, carrying out extrajudicial arrests and executions, and the use of child soldiers. We feel that the Kony 2012 film presents an extremely simplistic view of the Ugandan troubles, and the role Invisible Children plays in Uganda.
Invisible Children utilizes their funding from Christian groups to work with the Ugandan government.Indeed, as reported in the Washington Post, Invisible Children seems now to be in the business of helping Museveni round up his political opponents, as in the recent case of Patrick Komakech, arrested for treason on a tip from Invisible Children. The Museveni government is most famous recently for legislative attempts to punish homosexuality with the death penalty. It is no surprise that this bill was crafted by Ugandan Julius Oyet, with the direct support of Harvest Evangelism, co-recipient with Invisible Children of NCF and CCF funding. It is our belief that a major ulterior motive of Invisible Children is to assist in the continued maintenance of theocratic rule in Uganda, and to be part of a worldwide effort to promote theocracy around the world. Invisible Children is now saying on their website that they will go the UN in June to urge action.
We need to go to the UN alongside them with our petition and tell the UN to NOT send additional military support to Uganda based on Invisible Children's propaganda campaign. We would also like to ask for UN support to put an end to corporations, non-profit organizations, and government agencies from infiltrating social media with covert propaganda because it is a threat to democracy all over the world.
One of Invisible Children's slogans is "Stop at Nothing". We at CASMP are troubled by this slogan. For the U.S. to commit large-scale troop deployment to Central Africa to find Kony would be an expensive and complicated endeavor. We feel there could be another motive for African occupation, such as the rich untapped crude oil and natural gas resources. As we have seen in Iraq and in Vietanam, all too often U.S. foreign policy goes hand-in-hand with corporate interests. The Invisible Children propaganda campaign can be viewed as a program of manufactured consent to stir a groundswell of demand among social media users for such military intervention. This campaign has been using slick MTV style marketing to target those who would normally protest such action - the young, socially active, and media savvy.
Radio and television broadcasters are required to obey federal "sponsorship indentification rules." These rules (47 U.S.C. 317, 508 and 47 C.F.R. 73.1212, 76.1615) require broadcasters to "inform their audience at the time of airing: (1) that such matter is sponsored, paid for or furnished, either in whole or in part; and (2) by who or on whose behalf such consideration was supplied" (FCC 2005,3). Although these laws do not yet cover the Internet, to our knowledge, we at CASMP feel that the Kony 2012 video may fail to meet the requirement in clause (2), "on whose behalf such consideration was supplied". In other words, this could be covert propaganda.
While CASMP does not advocate for limitations on the free and open Internet of for censorship, we do strongly urge that Congress consider enacting legislation to strengthen existing FCC anti-propaganda regulations,so that corporations, non-profit organizations, and government agencies cannot use social media to engage in covert propaganda campaigns, and to re-enact the Fairness Doctrine in broadcasting.
Further, we urge you Mr. President, along with Congress, and the UN, do NOT engage additional military forces in Africa based on Invisible Children's manufactured "grass roots" movements, for it is merely propaganda in disguise. We also ask that you, Mr. President, support Citizens Against Social Media Propaganda in their campaign to bring this petition to the UN in opposition to Invisible Children's "pledges" for African intervention. We want to tell the UN that we cannot support nor tolerate covert propaganda operations being conducted via social media outlets. It is a threat to our democracy in the United States of American and it is a threat to democracy throughout the world.