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Effecting social change (of Facebook profile pics)


Over the weekend, many people changed their Facebook avatars to cartoon characters as some kind of statement against child abuse. I didn’t, but I don’t spend a lot of time following Facebook memes, either. I guess I’m a snob that way.

The chain letter post goes something like this:

Change your FB profile picture to a cartoon from your childhood. The Goal? Not to see a human face on FB until Monday, Dec 6th, and besurrounded by only our best childhood memories! Join in the fight AGAINST Child Abuse and copy & paste to your status & invite ur friends to do the …same…NO MORE CHILD ABUSE…..

How on earth does changing your profile picture to a cartoon character from your past do anything to help fight child abuse? I suppose you could argue that it raises awareness of the issue, which could lead to more donations toward… Well, stopping child abuse, of course.

No particular charity was singled out by the viral Facebook campaign, so who would even know where to donate any money? That would require some research into reputable charitable organizations that fight child abuse, and after putting in all that effort to select an appropriate cartoon character image from your childhood and changing your Facebook profile, who has time left over to research charities?

It’s a silly meme, and it crops up every few months or so. This avatar-change meme was made even sillier by a counter-meme that started going around late in the weekend. Documented by Valleywag, the counter-meme suggests that the cartoon-avatar meme was started by pedophiles as a way to make it — somehow — easier to identify victims on Facebook.

The message goes something like this:

ATTENTION:the group asking everyone to change their profile picture to a cartoon character is actually a group of pedophiles. They are doing it because kids will accept their friend request faster if they see a cartoon picture. It has nothing to do with any Child charities. IT’S ON TONIGHTS NEWS Copy & Paste this on to your status.

The meme-tracking site Know Your Meme believes that the chain may have started in Greece or Cyprus, but that’s unconfirmed. It’s origin may never be known, but it’s spread is linked to a seemingly unrelated Cartoon Network event on Facebook.

So, did you change your Facebook avatar to a cartoon character? Why, and what do you think it did to help the fight against child abuse?