A seemingly harmless Facebook fad that surfaced in mid-November with members urging one another to replace their profile pictures with cartoon characters somehow morphed into a serious crusade against child abuse, which in turn seems to have triggered a bizarre backlash in the form of a rumor claiming the whole idea was created by pedophiles.
Yes, pedophiles! You see, if everybody on Facebook changes their profile picture to a cartoon character, that will somehow make it easier for child molesters to contact children.
Make sense to you? Me neither.
As of this writing (early Monday, Dec. 6), the rumor remains completely unsubstantiated. I have yet to find a single legitimate news source reporting it as fact, despite the widely repeated claim that the info came from CNN, 60 Minutes, or some other such venue. If new information comes to light I'll post an update here, but in the meantime there's little reason to suppose it's true.
Update: A Facebook spokesperson has been quoted by the Huffington Post confirming that the pedophile rumor is false.
Examples of viral Facebook status updates posted Sunday, Dec. 5:
PLEASE READ!! So apparently the whole change your profile pic to a cartoon character was created by a group of pedophiles (child molesters). If children see pics of cartoon characters they are more inclined to add them as a friend. This is a method pedophiles are using to gain access to children. The story is supposed ...to air on CNN tonight! No good deed goes unpunished.. if your pic is a cartoon.. change
Did everone hear about the group asking everyone to change their profile picture to their favourite cartoon characters is actually a group of pedophiles. They're doing it because kids will accept their friend requests faster if they see a cartoon picture. It has nothing to do with supporting a child violence, it was on tonight's news, please copy and paste
IMPORTANT!!! people change your profile pics back to YOU cuz the group that told us all to change our pics to our fav cartoon characters were a group of pedophiles.They're doing it because kids will accept their requests faster if they see a cartoon pic, it's got nothing to do with supporting child violence. [check...... the news tonight... & pass it on
Read more about it:
• Facebook Cartoon Character Campaign 'Nothing to Do with the NSPCC,' Charity Says
• Trend Watch: Why Your Facebook Friends Have Cartoon Profile Pictures
• Cartoon Characters as Facebook Profile Pictures
• Cartoon Character Meme Spreads Around Facebook
• KnowYourMeme.com: Facebook Cartoon Profile Picture Week