Media stumped by Facebook cartoon pic trend, inadvertently creates monster

Are you tired of the Facebook avatar/status update trends purporting to raise “awareness” by doing something trivial- this week’s example being the Facebook cartoon profile pic trend purporting to somehow vaguely combat child abuse?

What started as the new form of chain e-mail hypemongering isn’t going to go away any time soon- high numbers of Google searches done each time one of these trends makes the round is driving a new subset of tech news, which in turn is driving the attention seeking behavior and rumor prevalence. What’s puzzling is that the people writing about these trends for mainstream media don’t seem to have any idea whatsover how these particular trends work.

Has this person never received an email asking them to fruitlessly collect soda pull-tabs or be wary of other drivers flashing headlights in gang initiations? Are these writers just signing up for their first AOL accounts 13 years ago? Welcome to the internet, people do stupid things en masse.

CNN commented on the “mystery” of the trend, as if it is the first time ever Facebook status updates or avatars have been hijacked by a mass trend like the cartoon character profile pic trend. The worst offender by far is (not surprisingly) the Daily Mail, who have violated the rule of not ignoring stupidity so it goes away in actually giving credence to the even stupider idea that the “campaign” was started by pedophiles so as they could more easily identify children:

But one Facebooker asked: ‘How is this gonna help stop child abuse? Sounds like something a paedophile would do!’
Another user posted the following warning: ‘The paedophiles have it easy finding the kids this way from a cartoon in your past! Obviously if someone posts Spongebob Square Pants it’s probably a kid, now Betty Boop an adult!’

The Mail even went so far as to confirm with child abuse related charities that the campaign was unrelated to their work. It seems one driver in these viral trends is a desire to get in or on the news- you might remember that in the later incarnations of the “breast cancer awareness” status update memes– so we’re likely stuck with mass media perpetuation of these irritating wastes of social media for the time being.

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