Likes Don’t Save Lives

Likes don't save lives... but more visibility means more money, which DOES save lives.

UNICEF Sweden’s stern new message to “slacktivists”

It’s easy to feel like an activist with social media constantly at our twitching fingertips. We wait for a cause, a status, a picture, a meme, or a video that catches our attention—and then we “like” it, comment on it, or maybe even share it. Do those simple actions directly save lives? Of course not. They might spread the message, but that’s not enough according to UNICEF’s new ad campaign.

“We like likes, and social media could be a good first step to get involved, but it cannot stop there,” said Petra Hallebrant, UNICEF Sweden’s Director of Communications. “Likes don’t save children’s lives. We need money to buy vaccines for instance.”

Some others are in agreement, nicknaming social media users that simply “like” causes “slactivists.”

UNICEF Sweden’s new ad campaign isn’t shy about letting users know their position. One of their new posters reads, “Like us on Facebook, and we will vaccinate zero children against polio.” Ouch. “We have nothing against likes, but vaccine costs money. Please buy polio vaccine at It will only cost you 4 €, but will save the lives of 12 children.”

Along with the new poster, UNICEF also has a new video featuring a set of orphaned brothers living in a broken down and abandoned building. The older boy say’s he’s worried they’ll get sick like their mother did, but says he knows everything will be alright if UNICEF Sweden can just reach 200,000 likes by the summer. Of course, the video leaves on a more realistic note, blunt but effective. Text reads “Likes don’t save lives. Money does.”

UNICEF certainly has a legitimate point here, but it’s important to keep in mind that the more likes and shares a cause gets, the more visibility it will have. That can directly impact donations in a positive way. The real question is who these “slactivists” really are; are they activists who would otherwise donate but have become too lazy, or are they normally uninvolved people who are just taking their first steps as activists?

Regardless, it is certainly important that people step up and donate to/volunteer for causes they believe in whenever they can. Whether or not UNICEF’s new ad campaign will kick more people into gear or not remains to be seen, but it’s certainly bound to get a lot of reactions out of people.

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