Challenging Facebook's Latest "Slacktivism" From Boulder

December 7 2010, 2:00 PM

In case you missed the point of profile pictures-turned-cartoon characters on Facebook recently, the gimmick intends to help raise awareness about violence against children. But is changing a Facebook profile pic all these would-be advocates are willing to do? If so, that's a problem, say people like Brandon Soucie, a 19-year-old student at Aims Community College whose friends recently included "Tweety Bird" and the "Little Mermaid." Instead of posting a character, another friend of Soucie's took the cause seriously, donating to Boulder County's Safehouse Progressive Alliance for Nonviolence and making note of it on FB, along with the words, "Screw you, slacktivism!" It was enough to get Soucie involved, writes Boulder's Daily Camera.

Peter Simons, the director of the University of Colorado's ethical civic engagement program, agrees that actually getting involved in a cause is better than just talking about it. Forbes' Michael Humphrey picks apart the Campaign to End Violence Against Children on Facebook, which has been spread by random status updates and loads of bandwagon hopping. He notes the campaign has lost control of its message, which has been marred by some confusion over whether the group behind the cartoon profiles is actually led by pedophiles (it's not). As Humphrey writes, "It worries me that the battle for information flow—where the really big money is to be made–is not at the source of information, but in the conveyance of it."