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.

About the author

She’s the author of Generation Debt (Riverhead, 2006) and DIY U: Edupunks, Edupreneurs, and the Coming Transformation of Higher Education, (Chelsea Green, 2010). Her next book, The Test, about standardized testing, will be published by Public Affairs in 2015.