The Power of YouTube, Facebook and Twitter

9 Oct

Mjos (2012: 12) highlights the ability that global social media possesses to create active users and to increase viewer participation. Although these sites of social media are often corporate or contested spaces, people are offered the ability to interact and provide input in the  process (Mjos, 2012: 12). The globalisation of media has been connected to how communications and technology infrastructure has enabled and increased the amount of opportunities for international communication and the distribution of this media (Katz, 2005). Brah (2002: 33) reiterates this point by stressing the role of the global market place and how this has accelerated change in economic, political, cultural, and social spheres. Mjos (2012: 28) highlights that many of these social media outlets, such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, have become sites of everyday life for users across the globe. The American on-line environment is the largest internationally, with the most time being spent on Facebook (Mjos, 2012: 25). These sites are important in the creation of a online community, where information is shared internationally with no barriers and connections and relationships can be made with people on the other side of the  globe (Mjos, 2012).

Established in 2004 by Bobby Bailey, Laren Poole and Jason Russell, the Invisible Children organisation had already produced 11 videos, all about Ugandan militarisation, which they used to establish a base of college age followers through social mediums such as, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube (Goodman and Preston, 2012). The larger Stop Kony campaign’s aim was to make Joseph Kony ‘famous’ and a household name (Goodman and Preston, 2012).The video went viral almost immediately, and after one week it had 73 million views on YouTube (Cavanagh, 2012). Currently the video has over 93 million views on YouTube and over 100 million in Vimeo.

Hunter Walk, Director of product management for YouTube spoke about the globalised nature of the meduim:

“YouTube has truly become a global living room. Today the YouTube community is more than 850 million monthly visitors. It’ll be a billion-person community quite soon. This has resulted in more than 72 hours of video per minute uploaded, and four billion hours of video watched per month. What’s really amazing is that growth hasn’t slowed down – there’s an incredible appetite for video” (quoted in Har-Even, 2012).

In a world that is ‘radically connected and increasingly divided’, a cosmopolitan viewpoint upholds the idea that people can still acknowledge local commitments and take into account larger arenas of concern (Hull, Stronaiuolo and Sahni, 2010: 331). As Hansen (2010: 1) states, individuals can “respond creatively to shifts in patterns of human interaction generated by migration, rapid economic and political change, and new communication technologies”. Increasingly social media are sites of cosmopolitan practice where ideas about cultural citizenship, communication and identity formation are contested through the representations of the self and the other (Hull et al., 2010: 331). Hull et al. (2010: 332)highlight the ability that social networking sites pocess to get users to imagine themselves in their local context in relation to others in the world, thus developing an awareness of positionality.  “Those who write about cosmopolitanism often use metaphors of welcome and connectedness: an open door, a gateway or port of entry, an inviting host, a dialogue, a conversation” (Hull et al, 2010: 333). As such,  compassionate connections between members of the global community can be formed and global ethnics are created to overcome differnces in atempt to forge a global community (Hull et al, 2010: 333). The Kony video utilizes this skill when at the beginning of the video the directors son is shown playing and ‘enjoying freedom’, in stark contrast to the type of life children are experiencing in Uganda. Thus, it could be said that the video ’emotionally manipulates’ its viewers.

Messages tagged #StopKony2012 and #MakeKonyFamous were worldwide trending topics:

Oprah Winfrey @Oprah

Thanks tweeps for sending me info about ending #LRAviolence . I am aware. Have supported with $’s and voice and will not stop.#KONY2012
6 Mar 12

How many times do you need to see children slaughtered to believe it’s real? #STOPKONY

Ryan Seacrest @RyanSeacrest

Was going to sleep last night and saw ur tweets about #StopKony…watched in bed, was blown away. If u haven’t seen yet
7 Mar 12

Justin Bieber @Justin Bieber

it is time to make him known. I’m calling on ALL MY FANS, FRIENDS and FAMILY to come together and #STOPKONY –

Kim Kardashian @KimKardashian

#Kony2012 Wow just watched! What a powerful video! Stop Kony!!! RT @KendallJenner: please WATCH THIS…
7 Mar 12


Brah, A. 2002 Global mobilities, local predicaments : globalization and the critical imagination, Feminist Review, 70: 30-45.

Cavanagh, C, J. 2012 Kony 2012 and the political economy of conflict representation, Department of International Environment and Development Studies, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, unpublished.

Goodman, D., Preston, J. 09/03/2012 How the Joseph Kony video went viral,, 08/10/2012.

Hull, G., Stronaiuolo, A., Sahni, U. 2010: Cultural citizenship and cosmopolitan practice: Global youth communicate online?, English Education, 42(4), 331–367.

Hansen, D. T. 2010 Cosmopolitanism and education: A view from the ground, Teachers College Record, 112 (1): 1-30.

Har-Even, B. 2012 Director of product management YouTube: “YouTube has become a global living room”,, 08/10/2012

Katz, C. 2005 Partners in crime? Neoliberalism and the production of new political subjectivities, Antipode, 37, 623-631.

Mjos, O J. 2012 Music, Social Media, and Global Mobility: MySpace, Facebook, YouTube, Britain, Routledge.


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