So why is everyone sharing a heart emoji in their Facebook status?
If you’re involved in the social media site, you’ve likely seen plenty of friends sharing a status of a heart emoji and nothing more. No explanation, no other words.
If you find yourself on the outside of the clearly inside movement, it can be a bit confusing and even frustrating, but like most cryptic Facebook trends, there’s a simple explanation — online activism.
Like many other past Facebook status “challenges,” sharing the heart emoji is meant to draw attention to breast cancer awareness. As Health.com explained, the Facebook heart emoji status is a way of extending Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October into the early part of the year.
As the report explained, there’s more to it than just sharing a heart emoji on Facebook and leaving it alone. The status is meant to be accompanied by a personal message to the recipient to check their breasts for lumps.
“The concept is as follows: Post a heart on your female friends’ Facebook walls, then send a private message explaining that the heart is a subtle reminder to get their breasts checked for lumps. Then, the goal is to cause a ripple effect—your friends posts hearts on their friends’ walls, their friends posts on other friends’ walls, and so on. They’re also supposed to post the heart on the same woman who sent them the message. But, the catch is, if any guys ask what the emojis are all about, the recipient is supposed to stay silent, since the game is meant only for women.”
But like other Facebook breast cancer trends, this one is leading to a bit of controversy. Some people believe it’s too convoluted to actually raise awareness about breast cancer, and excluding men is seen as counterproductive since men can contract breast cancer too.
Others have decried this type of message as “slacktivism,” giving people who share the heart emoji the illusion that they are helping when they could be doing something more, like donating money or even sharing an overt message like, “Please remember to check for breast lumps and schedule a visit with your doctor.”
Even as critics attack the idea of sharing a heart emoji on Facebook to raise awareness of breast cancer, there is other evidence that the social media giant is a great resource for spreading information about the disease. As the Mirror reported, a viral post about an often overlooked symptom of breast cancer led one woman to learn that she had it.
The post, first made by Australian woman Kylie Armstrong, showed a dimple in breast tissue that doctors said can be a sign of a tumor. A Yorkshire, U.K., woman named Becky Hamer saw the post and noticed a similar patch on her own breast. She was examined and learned that she had the disease.
Becky later met the woman who first made the breast cancer post, noting that many other women were diagnosed after reading the Facebook post and noticing the same sign on their own breasts.
“It will be great to meet her and say thank you in person,” said Becky. “We’ve got our own Facebook group and there’s women from the USA, Canada and Australia who have all got diagnosed thanks to her post. Had I not seen that I wouldn’t have done anything, so she pretty much saved my life.”
So if you see a heart emoji shared as a Facebook status, you now know why.
[Featured Image by Carl Court/Getty Images]