If you’re a Facebook user, and the chances are high you are, then you might well have noticed many of your friends changing their profile picture over the past couple of days into a cartoon character.
They may even have added a status message to explain why – and encourage you to do the same. Thing is, after a couple of days, the message changed.
Originally it was: “Change your profile picture on Facebook to an image from a cartoon from your childhood. The goal of the game? Not to have a single human face on Facebook, but an invasion of our collective childhood memories for a week.”
Then it became: “Change your Facebook profile picture to a cartoon character from your childhood and invite your friends to do the same, for the NSPCC. Until Monday (December 6th), there should be no human faces on Facebook, but an invasion of memories. This is a campaign to stop violence against children.”
Notice that it’s no longer a game? And you’d have to be heartless to ignore it wouldn’t you? It’s for the kids after all. And who doesn’t support the NSPCC?
Thing is, it’s not for the NSPCC. Well, it wasn’t to start with. But so many people have jumped on the bandwagon that the Charity has wisely taken steps to try and adopt it, riding the wave of publicity. A smart move indeed. But a swift look at their web site will show absolutely no reference to any Facebook campaign.
Over at the NSPCC Facebook fan page there is, however, the following post added on Saturday lunchtime: “A warm welcome to all our cartoon friends! We are incredibly grateful for your support to end cruelty to children in the UK. Although the NSPCC did not originate the childhood cartoon Facebook campaign, we welcome the attention it has brought to the work we do. If you would like to find out more about how you can get involved, please visit our website.”
“The Huffington Post“ reported this internet meme (definition) back on November 19th, so it’s not a purely UK phenomenon. Even the local news in West Texas covered it and, thankfully, put the story to excellent use rather than simply reporting that a bunch of people had ‘adopted’ a cartoon character.
I’m interested as to when the wording change and whether it was done for the right reasons, to turn a game into something more worthwhile, or did someone decide to tug at the heartstrings so that people would make the change?
There’s been a backlash, obviously. Many people, assuming correctly that the ‘campaign’ was nothing to do with the NSPCC began to post direct links to the Charity’s web site. Good work those people.
Then the scaremongering began, with some people changing their statuses to this: ”IMPORTANT..the whole changing your profile picture to your favourite cartoon character thing was actually created by a group of peadophiles, because if children see pictures of cartoons they will add them, it was currently on the programme Internet frauds and will apparently be on tv …some time tonight, put this as your status to warn people and change your profile pictures back, thankyou!!”.
Complete baloney of course, akin to those emails you receive telling you if you forward it to 25 people – and include the email address of someone from Nokia, Microsoft, Apple etc. – then you’ll automatically receive a free gadget of some sort. No truth in any of them whatsoever but people want to believe, which gets them over the bump of logic that should shout that such things just don’t happen.
Social media is an extremely powerful communication tool, that much can’t be denied by even the fiercest luddites. And congratulations to the NSPCC for trying to take ownership of it to some degree. I hope this has helped their cause, I hope it’s raised awareness of the real issues of child abuse in the UK and beyond. And I hope it’s brought a few more quid into the coffers.
And for the sake of completeness… I’ve often used Chorlton (of “…and the Wheelies” fame) as my profile pic. Sometimes you don’t want to stare at your own stupid face all the times.
Except where indicated, all content © Ross Brown 2007-2013