Facebook Cartoon Profile Pictures: Not a Pointless Hoax

rainbow brite
Did you change your Facebook profile picture?

Unless you are one of the few people who don’t have a Facebook account, you probably noticed something weird going on during the past week.  Friends have been replacing their Facebook profile photos with images of cartoon characters, many from the 1980s and earlier.  But while it’s been a giggle to see some of these long-forgotten cartoon characters get a new lease on life, what exactly was the point?

According to the status updates that accompanied these profile picture changes, the point was to raise awareness of violence against children:  “Change your Facebook profile picture to a cartoon from your childhood and invite your friends to do the same. Until Monday (December 6), there should be no human faces on Facebook, but a stash of memories. This is for eliminating violence against children.”

But like so many other things on the Internet, it appears that the Facebook cartoon profile pic switch was just a big old hoax.

According to, the idea originated as public message to Facebook users in Greece and Cyprus.  The original message that circulated to Facebook users there simply instructed them to change their Facebook profile pictures to cartoon characters for the sole purpose of eliminating “all photos of human for a few days from Facebook.”

No mention of children or the elimination of violence against them.

But, as things are won’t to do on the Internet, the idea caught on and, with the addition of a vague connection to child abuse prevention, the meme spread. By late Friday, Care Bears, Muppet Babies and Rainbow Brite ruled Facebook.

But now that we know the great Facebook Cartoon Profile Pic Switch of 2010 wasn’t officially connected to any particular cause, does that make the entire exercise pointless?  I don’t think so.  Even if it wasn’t originally intended to do so, it did raise awareness of an issue that doesn’t get a whole lot of attention.  And now that the subject has been broached, why not take it a step further?

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that 40 million children under the age of 15 are abused and neglected.  According to a United Nations study on violence against children, most of those acts are carried out by people these children know and should be able to trust.  Learn more about violence against children and what you can do to help by visiting Child Help, Stop It Now, or any of the other organizations linked at the Campaign to End Childhood Violence Facebook page.

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