Social-media trends with a cause

Saturday, December 4, 2010

If you've been on Facebook lately, you've probably noticed some of your friends have turned into cartoon characters, by the looks of their profile pictures.

A recent Facebook trend is bringing awareness to child abuse. Facebook users are changing their profile pictures to their favorite childhood cartoons and updating their statuses to:

"Change your FB profile picture to a cartoon from your childhood. The goal? To not see a human face on FB til Monday, Dec. 6. Join the fight against child abuse & copy & paste to your status to invite your friends to do the same"

Many other awareness trends that Facebook has facilitated include breast cancer awareness and self-harm awareness.

I think these are refreshing and important ways in which social-media can and should be used.

Social-media is designed to connect people across the world and I think it's important that these devices are being used for good causes.

Although the help these trends are actually bringing to the problems they outline is unknown, the point is that Facebook and other social-media tools are getting the word out to the masses in the best way they know how.

A trend is designed to help people find out what issues are currently being talked about.

Other trends that social-media promote are trends in discussion. Twitter is especially popular in this respect and even has a "Trends" column that can include worldwide, national or local trends.

These Twitter trends change daily in accordance to what people are talking about most.

This article by Mashable outlines which Twitter trends were most popular for any particular week.

Social-media trends have a much more important purpose than to just give people something to talk about.

Trends inform people about breaking news, connect people across the world on the basis of a single subject and break down the bureaucracy of news coverage by giving everyone a voice on important issues.

Whether trends are bringing public awareness to an important issue or informing people about something new, they are always connecting people in ways that were never thought possible just a few, short years ago.


taramaurer December 5, 2010 at 9:48 PM  

I wonder how many people who change their profile pictures to a cartoon actually do anything to help reduce child abuse. Yeah, it's great that Facebook is trying to raise awareness, but I think it's going to take a little more than a few changed Facebook photos to stop child abuse.

It's interesting though. I wonder if any support groups use Facebook to connect with victims. Or, could Facebook raise money through this trend in any way to stop child abuse? I'm curious as to how this trend will affect people.

One thing I want to mention is a message I have seen contradicting the original. This message was posted on one of my contact's walls:

READ CAREFULLY!!!! The group asking everyone to change their profile to their favourite cartoon characters is actually a group of pedophiles. They're doing it because kids will accept their friend requests faster if they see a cartoon picture. It has nothing to do with supporting children in need... It was on that show that warns you about Internet frauds plus tonights news PLEASE PASS THIS ON TO YOUR FRIENDS!

I'm not sure yet if this has any merit. I will post again if I hear any updates.

Candra Chamberlain December 6, 2010 at 7:53 AM  

I agree that it is good that Facebook is trying to raise awareness, but was also curious as to what exactly they are going to do if they get a large amount of people to change their pictures. As far as I can tell, there isn't anything anywhere stating what will become of that (aside from Google getting a large surge in searches for older cartoons).

I also saw the message about pedophiles trying to add more children, but haven't seen anything sense. I'd hope that most children that are utilizing Facebook have enough sense not to add people they don't know, but I realize that some still do.

Victoria Jones December 7, 2010 at 1:05 PM  

I saw similar messages as people's status. However, I couldn't find any actual truth to it. The closest thing I found was a gossip site said there was a "rumor" pedophiles started it. So, I'm pretty sure it's some bogus message that a lot of people are believing.

Tara, I think you make some great points on what the picture posting is actually doing. I agree that it's great and all but how many Scooby-Doo's and Powder Puff Girls' are taking actual steps to stopping child abuse? Very few I think.

Paul Salais December 7, 2010 at 6:18 PM  

I think "trying" to do things like this is great. Unfortunately, as Tara points out, there is potential for people to take advantage of situations like this.

Another thing is people may change their profile pictures to a favorite cartoon character, but how many are actually putting forth a true effort to do something about this? How many people are just changing their profile picture for just plain fun?

Kati Herr December 7, 2010 at 8:08 PM  

"The road to hell is paved with good intentions..." and apparently with cartoon characters.

I agree with everyone that this could be a good idea if issued correctly--but as Tara pointed out, it could be (or is?) being used to put children in danger.

It makes me sick that someone could be using this idea to further their nasty fantasies. How polluted is facebook that pedophiles are able to influence people into helping them draw children in?!


sheyenne.manning December 8, 2010 at 6:36 AM  

Tara, that is a terrifying possibility! I surely hope there is no truth to that message. I haven't seen it so I hope it's someone just trying to mess with people. I hope, as Paul pointed out, that people aren't taking advantage of this trend in such a dangerous way.

And yeah I wonder how much awareness it really brings, but if people are changing their pictures and posting the status, it may be more effective than we think. I've seen an incredible amount of changed profile pictures over the weekend.

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