Solidarity or controversy?

In wake of the recent attacks in Paris this past weekend, Facebook launched a temporary profile picture filter that, when activated, would put a French flag over a user’s profile picture to show support France. Some users jumped on this opportunity to show their solidarity while some this offensively, for a multitude of reasons.


On the one side, the side that supports the filter, users tend to jump this opportunity because it’s an easy, low-risk way to show that you are aware something is happening. People like this, as it does not require a lot of action, but still creates a way to show some form of support. People who support the filter are aware it does nothing tangibly to solve anything, but it’s just a way to show support and spread awareness (like wearing pink during breast cancer awareness month, and participating in No Shave November).

On the side arguing against the filter, people are arguing that there should have been more filters, saying that more than one tragedy happened this weekend and Facebook should have been more in tune with the world beyond the first world. Additionally, people are starting to create a sort of “shaming” vibe, stating that people who change their profile picture to the flag are “ignorant and unaware” and should focus on the world at large, not just the pretty countries. They also argue that if you really supported Paris, you would donate.

photo courtesy of Tsepang Matekane

Personally, I agree that there should have been more filters to show support for every country affected this weekend, but I don’t think shaming people or even angrily refusing to filter your profile picture will solve anything any better. (fun fact: I was one of the ones who changed my profile picture).

You can read more about the rationale behind the backlash here.


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