Just last week, I received two opportunities on Facebook to raise awareness of a cause. The first being to raise awareness of breast cancer by putting in my status what I like to drink. Of course, each drink refers to a statement of relationship status. For example, tequila: i’m a single woman, sprite: i’m a woman who can’t find the right man. It was only circulated between women so men had no idea why women were putting random drinks in their status updates. Another one that got notice was raising awareness about child abuse by changing your profile picture to your favourite childhood cartoon. This campaign has gotten into some heat as of lately. Sara Nelson from the Daily Mail reports,
The campaign, which urges the image swap, has swept the social networking site and boasts a group page of nearly 90,000 fans. While many believe the viral originated from the children’s charity the NSPCC, it has denied any involvement, although welcomes the focus on the work it does.
However, disturbingly, rumours are now sweeping the net that the campaign is actually a smokescreen for paedophiles hoping to narrow down which users are children.
No one has come forward to claim responsibility for the campaign. The NSPCC posted the following statement on its Twitter page: ‘Although the NSPCC did not originate the childhood cartoon Facebook campaign, we welcome the attention it has brought to the work we do.’
But one Facebooker asked: ‘How is this gonna help stop child abuse? Sounds like something a paedophile would do!’
Blogger Shayne House said: ‘Changing your profile picture does not really support the NSPCC unless it inspires or encourages you or someone else to volunteer or donate, which hopefully it will. Did it inspire you?’
As the mystery continues to swirl – indeed the US National Child Abuse Prevention Month isn’t until April – the enormous scale of influence the campaign is having is being noted across the world.
According to the LA Times, nearly every of the 20 most actively searched terms on Google were to do with ‘old cartoons’ on Saturday morning.
It is amazing to see how quickly and how big a campaign like this can get. Most facebook users haven’t informed themselves as to who is behind this cartoon-child abuse campaign. And it’s not like its directly helping the cause. But everyone still does it, either because everyone else is doing it and it makes you look good to others or because they believe in helping this cause and each little step counts. Causes going viral on facebook definitely raise awareness because there have been many occasions where a campaign on facebook has reached the news. But is it just a trend to get noticed or is there actual improvements in the cause being made? Hopefully those who participate in raising awareness via facebook also take the time to read about the subject and get involved.
For those campaigns that are affiliated with an organization that represent the cause, using Facebook is a great way to get youth involved in societal issues. It makes them aware of whats going on in their city and in the world. It’s hard not to notice a viral campaign when all your friends have something associated with it and they are more likely to get involved then and maybe find something they are passionate about.