The Black Dot Campaign on the Internet via social media began as a well-intentioned attempt to help empower and rescue victims of domestic violence. But more recently it has turned into a dangerous viral campaign.
The Black Dot Campaign sought to identify trapped domestic violence victims in need of help by having them draw small black dots on the center of their palms and the images could then be broadcast on social media as a plea for help.
Those who saw these images would understand the plea for help and that the women were silent victims under surveillance every moment by their abusers and could muster rescue and rehabilitation efforts on their behalf.
gawker.com says the earliest available mention of the campaign, which has spread rapidly via Facebook and Twitter, is a Facebook post from September 13, in which a woman named Jenn Hunton posted a picture of herself with a black dot on her hand.
The post reads:
The black dot on the hand lets professionals know you're a really vulnerable domestic violence survivor, and that you need help but can't ask because your abuser is watching your every move. In just 24 hours, the campaign has reached over 6,000 people worldwide, and has already helped 6 women. Please spread the campaign, and post a picture of your hand with the black dot, to show your support to all survivors of domestic violence.
#blackdotcampaign #speakout #someoneyouknowneedshelp #saynotodv
gawker.com pointed out that the post linked to the campaign's Facebook page which has since been taken down. As of Thursday morning, that post had been shared over 83,600 times, and featured positively in media including The Telegraph, Hello Giggles, The Huffington Post, and Marie Claire.
Snopes, a reliable site that pinpoints and exposes Internet hoaxes and misleading viral campaigns in a post on 8 September 8 described the development of the campaign, noting that on 14 September 14, the campaign posted an "Important Notice," essentially clarifying that nobody has been officially notified about the campaign, except for the internet.
An idea which sought to raise awareness about domestic violence simply got out of hand and was reappropriated and turned into a negative viral campaign. snopes.com noted that professional bodies have not been advised or trained in the Black Dot, what it symbolises and what it means.
The 'important notice' stated that "most importantly SAFETY MUST ALWAYS COME FIRST. If you see a black dot or are approached by someone for help, if safe to do so take them to safety and get them in contact with the relevant agency. Intervention and support should only be done by professionals."
The campaign has now become a dangerous scam and domestic violence prevention organization Project Sanctuary has officially refused to endorse it. gawker. com quoted Dina Polkinghorne, executive director of the project as saying: "The Black Dot Campaign is a very well-meaning idea, but a bad idea nonetheless." Her fear is that abusers would use the campaign to intensify their surveillance and abuse on their victims.
The founder of the campaign, a British domestic abuse survivor who wishes to remain anonymous, told the BBC that she never meant for the campaign to go viral, or for women to post selfies with black dots on their hands, gawker.com noted.