“Change your Facebook profile picture to a cartoon character from your childhood and invite your friends to do the same. Until Monday (December 6), there should be no human faces on Facebook, but an invasion of memories. This is a campaign to stop violence against children.”
This message populated the facebook news feed as faces of friends were changed to images of Fireman Sam, Teenage Mutant Ninga Turtles and Bananaman getting behind the ’cause’.
Potentially this campaign had the power to reach millions, a simple idea that appealed to the public. 250m users log onto Facebook every day and with, on average, 130 friends each the reach for the campaign is huge even with a relatively small uptake.
But the campaign seem to raise more questions than answers. How could a change in profile image stop violence against children? There was no request for a donation, no unifying, easy to find, official group that set out the objectives of the initiative.
More harmful still is the seemingly widespread belief that this was all started by paedophiles. Just as a campaign can spread like wildfire across social networking sites, so too can rumour. The NSPCC were in a position to unify the cause but while the charity did belatedly condone the idea it did not adopt it.
The various fan pages/event pages i’ve seen purporting to represent the campaign claim seem to muddy the water further.
What’s clear is that despite being a great idea, it was poorly executed leaving it open to abuse from some and reducing the penetration of the campaign. In the social space it’s not enough to have a great idea, you’ve got to know what to do with it.