Around the last week of November, I started noticing quite a few of my Facebook friends changing their profile pics to those of cartoons. At first I thought it was a coincidence, but as more and more cartoons popped up on my Facebook news feed, it dawned on me that there must be something behind it. I also noticed on Google Trends quite often it would show a lot of searches for “80s cartoons” or “90s cartoons,” but I never put two and two together.
It wasn’t until the first weekend of December that a friend finally posted the chain status update asking everyone to change their Facebook profile picture to that of their favorite childhood cartoon to support Child Abuse Awareness. The message also asked Facebook users to keep the cartoon as their profile photo until Tuesday, Dec. 7.
Once I read what the whole movement was about, I knew I wanted to get in on it. I started looking through my friends list to see how many had joined and what cartoon characters they had picked. Around 50 or so had joined and had mostly used cartoons I was already quite familiar with, such as Betty Boop, Mickey Mouse, various characters from the Jetsons and Flintsones, He-Man, and even She-Ra. I did not see any characters from my favorite cartoon growing up, which was Jem (and the Holograms), so I quickly did a Google search to find a picture. Then, I changed my Facebook profile image and copy/pasted the Facebook status message to keep the chain going.
According to ABC News, the movement didn’t start out as a campaign against child abuse, but as one just to remove human faces from Facebook for a few days back in the middle of November. This quickly evolved into the campaign to end child abuse. No one is quite sure who first changed the message, which was originally in Greek, but like another childhood memory, the telephone game, the end message is not always the same as what you started with.
I think the movement would have been much more successful had those who started it done several things, such as used the Causes application on Facebook; included a link in the status message to find more information on how to stop child abuse; and, while there are several Facebook Fan Pages related to the movement, they were not promoted nearly as much as the status message to change the profile pic.
Unfortunately, the majority of the message was about picking out your favorite childhood cartoon character and didn’t list a site for Facebook users to go to for more information on Child Abuse or how to stop it. So while about 25 percent of my friends participated in the movement, I don’t think there will be a lasting effect from it. Many users will soon change their profile pics back and forget all about the movement. I do think the movement was definitely worth the efforts, however. If it helps to save just one child from abuse, then it was more than worth it.
Ki Mae Heussner, “Cartoon Characters as Facebook Profile Pictures” ABC News.