There should be no human faces on Facebook...but an invasion of memories, advocated a video on YouTube supporting the 'Campaign To End Violence Against Children - Childhood Cartoon Faces' that has stormed the internet.

The non-profit campaign launched by an unnamed volunteer aimed at raising awareness on the 'Worldwide Violence Against Children and Child Abuse'. All that was required from the users was a simple gesture of changing their profile pictures to an image of a favorite childhood cartoon character.

Despite wide-spread skepticism over the impact of this social media campaign in the real world, the movement took over the complete world wide web. Besides giving many on Facebook a rude awakening to the prevalence of child abuse, the campaign managed to gain momentum as the international media started covering it and the search engines were set on fire with cartoon-related searches.

Social media for social causes

Ever since the advent of the social media, internet has emerged as a key marketing tool not only for profit-making organizations but also for non-profit interests. Social media has time and again emerged as favorite to fuel social causes. The recent 'digital deaths' of celebrities such as Lady Gaga, Usher, Ryan Seacrest and Justin Timberlake, who signed off from their Twitter and Facebook accounts to raise $1 million for Alicia Keys' charity for AIDS, Keep a Child Alive, is an example of this, which is fast becoming a phenomenon.

Spill-over effect

The unique aspect about launching a campaign on the internet is that it quickly gains momentum through instantaneous surrogate publicity. This is what happened with the Childhood Cartoons Campaign. While a video titled 'This is Why We Changed Our Profile Pictures to Cartoons' gave visual bolster to the campaign against child abuse on Youtube, media could not resist covering the campaign due to its growing popularity. Besides covering the event itself, news sites and blogs also looked into which of the cartoon characters were used most, listed the 'coolest cartoon characters' to help users choose, and produced quizzes like 'Which cartoon character suits you the best?' or 'What does your Facebook character say about you?'.

Whatever takes place on the social networking site instantly ends up being discussed on the microblogging site Twitter as well (and vice versa).  Over the week chats, opinions and updates on the Cartoon Characters campaign have been trending on Twitter.

So, did I miss the memo on FB? why do everybody got cartoon characters as they profile pic, tweeted a user. Within minutes, the tweet was retweeted with answers throwing light on the anti-child abuse campaign.

The twitter page for the topic continues to be flooded by the second with posts accompanied by several hash tags, such as #childabuseawareness.

On Google Trends, cartoon-related phrases like 'facebook cartoon profile picture', 'cartoon characters', '1990 cartoons' 'cartoons from the '90s', 'cartoons from the '80s', 'road runner cartoon', 'bugs bunny pictures', 'snoopy pictures', 'rugrats pictures', '1970s cartoons' have dominated the internet search over the past couple of days.

From idea to fad to anti-child abuse campaign

Although the issue of Child Abuse has grasped the attention of the Facebook users, details on the origin of the campaign remain murky. It is probably the first time that the issue of a campaign and the responses are getting more attention than the organization or person behind it. However, the idea of changing profile pictures to cartoon characters initially did not seem to have come with the attachment of any social message.

According to Know Your Meme, the idea may have originated in Greece and Cyprus with the intention of erasing all human photos from the social networking site.

A translation of the message that is believed to have started it all reads, From the 16th to the 20th of November, we shall change our profile pictures to our favourite cartoon characters. The purpose of this game is to remove all photos of human for a few days from Facebook.

The fad began to spread and Cartoon Network created a Facebook event page for 'Choose a Cartoon Character as Your Profile Picture for a Week' from November 21 to November 28, 2010.

It was only on Decemeber 3 that the real campaign began with the trend morphing into an anti-child abuse movement.

With this, several pages cropped up with messages reading, Change your facebook profile picture to a cartoon character from your childhood and invite your friends to do the same. Until Monday, Dec 6th of 2010, there should be no human faces on facebook, but an invasion of memories! This is for a campaign against violence on children.

Skepticism Vs Effect

While thousands changed their profiles, skepticism was inevitable with several questioning the effects of the gesture.

Changing your profile pictures is only the first step. To make a real difference, DONATE to your children charity or organization of choice, asserted the description on one Facebook campaign page.

The campaign is set to end on Monday, December 6. The persisting popularity of the movement, however, has indicated that the campaign has, without doubt, managed to create, if not complete awareness, a trendy buzz over the issue of child abuse. Managing to get people to talk about any social cause at all in an age of self-centred endeavors is, in itself, a very big step forward.

This was indicated in one of the participants' post on Facebook, which said, so, i take it everyone who has taken the time to change their profile picture has also written their Congressmen demanding that the United States signs the U.N.'s Convention on the Rights of the Child? because, surely, that would be more helpful than changing our profile pictures.