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Facebook Change Profile Picture to Cartoon Character Paedophile Warning Hoax

Outline
Facebook message warns that a recent campaign asking people to change their profile picture to a cartoon character as a means of raising awareness about child violence is actually a scheme run by a paedophile group intended to make it more likely that children will accept their friend requests.



Brief Analysis
The claims in the warning are false The suggestion that the "cartoon character" profile picture change campaign is a paedophile scheme is utter nonsense. Although its exact origins are somewhat hazy, the campaign, which has gone viral on Facebook, is indeed intended to raise awareness about the issue of violence against children and has no sinister or hidden motives.

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Detailed analysis and references below example.



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Last updated: 6th December 2010
First published: 6th December 2010
Article written by Brett M. Christensen
About Brett Christensen and Hoax-Slayer


Example
Everyone take off the cartoon pictures because the group asking everyone to change their profile picture to their favourite cartoon characters is actually a group of paedophiles. They're doing it because kids will accept their friend requests faster if they see a cartoon picture! It has nothing to do with a child violence campaign! Check the news tonight.

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Facebook Change Profile Picture to Cartoon Character Paedophile Warning Hoax




Detailed Analysis
According to this warning message, which is circulating very rapidly around social networking website Facebook, a recent campaign to raise awareness about child violence is actually a sinister and dastardly scheme launched by a group of paedophiles. The campaign discussed in the warning, which has gone viral on Facebook, urges users to change their profile picture to a cartoon character as a means of fighting against child violence. The warning suggests that this campaign is actually a cover for a paedophile group whose motive is to make it more likely that children will accept their friend requests because their profile pictures feature cartoon characters.

However, the claims in the warning message are utter and complete nonsense and certainly should not be taken seriously. I will discuss these absurd and ridiculous claims in more detail later in this article.

Before proceeding, however, let us explore the anti-violence campaign itself. Just about everyone currently active on Facebook will have noticed that a great many Facebook profile pictures have indeed been changed to cartoon characters during the last few days. These profile changes began sweeping across the network after messages like the following began circulating:
ALL FB USERS Change your facebook profile picture to a cartoon character from your childhood and invite your friends to do the same. Until monday (Dec. 6) there should be no human faces on facebook, but an invasion of memories. FOR THE FIGHT AGAINST CHILD VIOLENCE
The exact origin of the campaign is currently unclear. Some reports indicate that the idea may have started among Facebook users in Greece and Cypress. It appears that the trend started as a simple game without any particular agenda. However, at some point it morphed into the current anti-violence campaign. Since then, the campaign has taken the social network by storm and inspired a number of dedicated Facebook groups along the way. While the campaign does not appear to have been first promoted by any specific child welfare group, at least one organization, the NSPCC, is now openly supporting the craze. The NSPCC asks users to show their support by donating money as well as by changing their profile picture.

Some have suggested that such campaigns are not particularly effective. However, it could be argued that such a high profile campaign might at least raise awareness about the plight of abused children and may also encourage more people to donate to child welfare causes or take a more active role in protecting vulnerable children within their communities. Regardless of its effectiveness, it seems clear that this campaign is motivated by a genuine desire to help.

Thus, the absurd claim that the campaign is actually some kind of front for paedophiles is all the more reprehensible. While even a hint of paedophile activity is understandably enough to raise fear and alarm, the level of paranoia on the subject exemplified by the rampant reposting of this warning message is concerning. It seems that people are simply not thinking this scenario through before reposting the message. There is simply no logic whatsoever to the claim put forward in the warning. If some sinister paedophile group was intent on luring children into their clutches by changing their profile pictures to child-friendly cartoon characters, the very last thing that they would desire is for the wider Facebook community to follow suit. Such an outcome would of course rob them of the perceived advantage that motivated them to change their picture in the first place. Therefore, the very last thing they would do is to encourage other (non- paedophile) users to also change their profile pictures by spreading around a viral message to that effect.

Some versions of the warning claim that various news outlets have confirmed the supposed paedophile connection to the anti-violence campaign. However, there are no credible news reports that support the absurd claims in the warning in any way whatsoever.

The circulation of false and malicious warnings about supposed paedophile activity seems to be a growing - and quite worrisome - trend on Facebook. Messages that have circulated over the last few months have not only warned about non-existent Facebook paedophile groups but have also gone as far as to name innocent people as suspected paedophiles.

So, in summary, if you feel that changing your profile picture to a cartoon character may help raise awareness of child violence, then by all means do so. However, please do not repost the scurrilous and totally unfounded claim that this well-meaning and innocuous anti-violence campaign is some sort of sinister paedophile plot. By reposting, you will be helping to perpetrate destructive misinformation that will help nobody. In fact, reposting such material is downright irresponsible.

Bookmark and Share References
Cartoon Characters as Facebook Profile Pictures
NSPCC
Becoming a Father or Mother Facebook Group Pedophile Warning Hoax
Unfounded Facebook Rumour - Thierry Mairot Wants to Talk to Children About Sex



Last updated: 6th December 2010
First published: 6th December 2010
Article written by Brett M. Christensen
About Brett Christensen and Hoax-Slayer