The charity calling for Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony to be brought to justice has responded to criticism of its campaign, as thousands of Kiwis join the cause.
Kony is the head of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), accused of killing more than 30,000 Ugandans and using child soldiers in their fight. He has overnight gone from being a little-known name to one of the most widely-discussed social media topics in the world, after an emotional 30-minute video posted on YouTube calling for US troops to remain in Uganda and capture Kony went viral.
A Facebook event called Kony Auckland 2012 so far has more than 16,000 people saying they will attend. The event calls on people to paste "Stop Kony" posters around Auckland on April 20.
Another 68,000 people have been invited to the event, and other events are planned around the country.
US-based charity Invisible Children is responsible for the viral campaign and its chief executive Ben Keesy tonight defended it on TV ONE's Close Up after a counterpoint blog written by Canadian political science student Grant Oyston went viral.
In his blog, Oyston points to a report on the charity's finances which shows only 32% of its fundraising money went to direct services, with the rest going to staff salaries, travel and transport, and film production.
But Keesy denies money is being misspent.
"We're not getting rich on this. I came from an accounting background, a big job in Los Angeles, and actually when I started Invisible Children, I moved into my parents because we weren't getting paid anything."
The charity has posted its financial statements for the past five years on its website. They show it spends around two thirds of funds on awareness and advocacy campaigns, and the rest on on-the-ground development.
"This three-pronged approach is what makes Invisible Children unique," the website states. "Some organisations focus exclusively on documenting human rights abuses, some focus exclusively on international advocacy or awareness, and some focus exclusively on on-the-ground development. We do all three."
Criticism has also been levelled at how the campaign plans to stop Kony.
Although there has been an International Criminal Court arrest warrant for Kony since 2005, he has evaded capture. Keesy says the LRA is now at a "weak point," making it a good time to finally find Kony.
"We need to follow it all the way through and surge past the finish line where Joseph Kony himself - the leader of the group - is apprehended off the battlefield permanently and peace can finally be achieved."
But Invisible Children's claim that peace can be achieved from Kony's capture has also come under fire for being too simplistic. Oyston points to a Foreign Affairs article from last year, written shortly after the US sent 100 troops to assist the Ugandan military, which says the LRA is a small player in central Africa's ongoing conflict.
"The violence in Uganda, Congo, and South Sudan has been the most devastating - anywhere in the world - since the mid-1990s," the article states.
"Even conservative estimates place the death toll in the millions. And the LRA is, in fact, a relatively small player in all of this - as much a symptom as a cause of the endemic violence. If Kony is removed, LRA fighters will join other groups or act independently."
Keesy, however, believes simplifying the message is "appropriate".
"It's pretty simple that Joesph Kony needs to be stopped, that's something everybody can agree on. It's just creating the political will."
The charity pleads with supporters to join in supporting the international effort to arrest Kony, disarm his army and bring child soldiers home.
It offers an advocacy kit for US$30, containing a t-shirt, bracelet, stickers, button, and posters.
"People will think you're an advocate of awesome," says the Invisible Children website.
"You can decorate yourself and the town with this one-stop shop."
Famous musicians and celebrities have got on board, with the likes of Rihanna, Justin Bieber, Kim Kardashian, and Taylor Swift tweeting.
"PLEASE go to Invisiblechildren.com Even if its 10 minutes... Trust me, you NEED to know about this!" tweets singer Rihanna.
If you're arranging a "Cover the night in Joseph Kony" event on April 20, email Close Up producer Chris Lynch at firstname.lastname@example.org
What do you think of the stop Kony campaign? Are you planning on going to an event related to the campaign? Have your say on the messageboard below.