Its a hoax (oh no it isn’t … is it?)

December 23, 2010 at 4:32 pm (internet) (, , , )

There has been some interesting commentary about the recent (well, a week or so ago now) fad on facebook to change your profile picture to a cartoon character in aid of raising awareness about cruelty to children.  It has led to media coverage, claims it was started by peodophiles, claims that its all a hoax, descriptions as a great example of slacktivism and many parodies, claiming that facebook has solved child abuse (including this CNN parody pic).

It does appear to have increased traffic to the NSPCC website and caused an upsurge in donations, so by what measure do you measure a hoax and increased awareness?  Ok, so maybe the vast majority of people did nothing more than just change their profile picture, but maybe a small number of them did actually donate.  And maybe more will remember the issue when its comes to thinking about supporting a cause in the future.  Who knows.  The NSPCC did acknowledged the support from the campaign via its own facebook page.

Regardless of your views on this particular campaign, it cannot be denied that if a cause like this catches peoples imaginations, it can spread very quickly.  Slacktivism or not, social media can amplify significantly.

Of course, if the message that was spreading was somehow contrary to the views of the organisations it is claiming to support, then it might be a hard force to work against too …



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