Cartoons Take Over Facebook to Stop Child Abuse

What was your favorite cartoon as a child? Judging by the new avatars of users’ profiles on Facebook, the most popular cartoons of my generation appear to be Ren and Stimpy, Doug, and Animaniacs. Facebook users are changing their avatars this weekend to bring awareness to child abuse.

This new campaign started sometime last week with a viral “game” that was shared on friends’ walls:

“Change your profile picture to your favorite cartoon from when you were a kid. The goal of this game is not to see a human picture on Facebook, but an invasion of childhood memories until Monday. PLAY AND PASS ALONG!”

The interesting part, as you may notice, is a lack of reason in the message about why users are changing their profile photo, which is similar to what happened in the game women played back in October when they updated their Facebook Status with “I Like It On…” to bring awareness to breast cancer. The idea was to imply where they liked their purses, and when asked what they were talking about, to discuss breast cancer. Of course, the sexual innuendo was a tease for men, and many women thought they were actually supposed to announce where they liked the other “it.”

So, just like the breast cancer “it” game, the Facebook cartoon game doesn’t seem to have any actual meaning either, since most people on Facebook don’t know why everyone is changing their photo. The other problem users are questioning is what impact this game has. Even if users are aware of the point of changing their photos to favorite childhood cartoons, there is no call to action – like donating to a child abuse prevention fund. In the end, I also just can’t identify who my friends are – especially since Facebook updated their chat feature recently, and the only way to know if a friend is online and available to chat is via a list of avatars of friends. Luckily, hovering over an picture reveals the name of the Facebook user, but this new game indicates that the use of picture-only identification of users could be a usability problem if Facebook users begin to use something other than their own photo more often.

Did you change your Facebook photo to a cartoon character? Do you think these viral Facebook games could ever have their intended impact?

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  • http://wilsontech1.com WilsonTech1

    It’s a stupid “game.” No meaning or reason. Enjoyed your thoughts on this idiocy from sheeple who just do what people tell them to on Twitter.

  • Dem

    Actually I dont mind the games because they’re not intrusive. Sidenote, there doesnt need to be a call to action, people that are going to donate have and/or will, for the rest, its a community project/game. Of late I’ve noticed the bigger problem with society is people have forgotten how to have fun. Everything doesn’t have to HAVE a meaning, some things can be silly without being mean/cruel/hateful or trollish. Its one of the reason I’m so over gross out humor and reality tv in general, I dont get fulfillment out of watching other people fail.

    Back to the primary topic though, I dont think people should be guilted or nudged to support anything. As for the picture I.D., it’s not that big of a problem, the more pressing issue is all the individuals who have like 300 or 500 ‘friends’, FB needs an associates list to dump people into that aren’t your friends. its called friends for a reason, I know the cartoons my friends liked as children because were friends and we talk about such minutiae. Aside from that, if people are too lazy to freakin’ hover for a second to see a name, the worlds in a sorrier state then I already think it is.

  • http://zagorath.blogspot.com Zagorath

    I changed it, but more just to show that I’m still in-touch with my inner child than for the actual cause. I usually tend not to like these sorts of things.
    This year and last year, amongst my circle of friends I was the first guy to poke a hole in the girls breast-cancer awareness game.

  • http://shotgunconcepts.com/2010/10/i-like-it-when-it-makes-sense/ Chris Houchens

    Exactly. Instead of helping the child abuse cause, this hinders and maybe hurts it. The purse thing had the same detrimental effect on breast cancer awareness I blogged about the purse thing and many if the same things could be said about these cartoon avatars

  • http://www.odbody.com Tashacres

    Actually, in the UK the message going around says it’s for the NSPCC which is a charity to stop child cruelty. Altho there’s no call to action it’s giving a huge amount of publicity and brand awareness that would usually have to be paid for.
    Not all marketing has to have a call to action – why else would massive brands sponsor Formula 1 or Football (soccer) teams? They don’t have a URL alongside their logos, they just want people to recognise and think of them.
    I know it maybe annoying for the avatars to be changed, and I don’t do it often, but it’s a temporary thing that shows to my friends and family that I care about this issue. It won’t change the world overnight but the brand awareness may make people think the next time they see the TV campaign or the newspaper ads that NSPCC do with their call to action clearly stated.

  • MikeT

    Sheeple? Not.

    There are a multitude of “causes” out there. Many of them are worthwhile, but fact is there are too many for one person to treat them all as high priority efforts. Changing a profile pic was simply a gentle way of letting my friends know that child abuse is one of the causes that I care about. I dismiss the vast majority of participation requests I get through FB, but there was nothing wrong with this one. (Even if it was layered onto a pre-existing viral game – so what?)

  • http://www.gavinroskamp.com Gavin Roskamp

    I know that the one going around my Facebook friends says to change it because of could abuse. These kinds of things get reworded as they go on.