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Using Your Facebook Friends, This Site Makes Domestic Violence Very Personal

A nonprofit uses pictures of your friends to make a point.

Interval House, a Toronto shelter for abused women, has created a web campaign with the help of ad agency Union that makes domestic violence very, very personal. When you log into the site, Every Second Matters, using Facebook Connect, it populates the screen with images taken from the profiles of your female Facebook friends, behind a ticking clock and the text:

"Every second a Canadian Woman is abused. Who has to be affected to make you care?"

Visitors are invited to donate by "buying a second" on the clock.

While the site design is highly effective, the numbers are a bit fuzzy. There are over 31 million seconds in a year, after all, and only 35 million Canadians. In the U.S. an equivalent statistic is 1.3 million women victims of physical assault by a partner per year, or 2.5 per minute—far too many.

Yes, this is for a good cause, but there's also an undeniable creep factor in mining peoples' social networks and personal images for advertising. Ironically, victims of domestic violence have a great need to protect their online privacy because of the danger of vengeful exes. Facebook has been partnering with nonprofits to help educate this group on privacy controls and settings.

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  • Visakan @ ReferralCandy

    Hmm. I had to think for a while to figure out how I felt about this. I think the ends justify the means in this particular scenario (ONLY because of the context of how all this data is being mined and used in all sorts of circumstances ANYWAY.)

    Similar story- the local papers in my area ran an ad with female celebrities in Marilyn Monroe type ads, saying "lift your skirt for cervical cancer!". Some people were outraged- how could you use sex to sell cancer awareness? The newspapers actually ran forum letters that complained about this. Flip the page, though, and you see advertising for breast augmentation. The bottom line of the newspaper is immune to the criticism towards the methodology of cancer awareness.

    So... I think the sexy cervical cancer ads are justified if they save lifes. And I think you being creepy about my Facebook friends is okay if it means a greater awareness for us all about the realities of domestic violence. 

    It's a bit of a slippery slope, admittedly. But the abuse troubles me more than the privacy of social media users.