Facebook announced Wednesday that it has partnered with teen idol Justin Bieber--yes, that Justin Bieber--and MTV's "The Thin Line" public awareness campaign to combat cyberbullying and other forms of digital abuse on the Web. Contributors to MTV's map of anti-abuse tactics from around the country will now be eligible to win prizes that include a "personalized voice-mail greeting from Justin Bieber."
Facebook's broader role in this does not appear to be particularly large. But attaching its name to this sort of initiative is important: Among Facebook's younger users, cyberbullying and other forms of digital abuse have been a concern, and some critics (including lawmakers) have said that they don't think the social-networking site is doing enough to spread awareness and protect minors. This is one of those issues where, shall we say, Facebook needs to groom its image as carefully as Mr. Bieber grooms his hair.
But for those of us more interested in the Facebook side of things, take note of this: The second-prize giveaway in the competition, as a sort of consolation for those who do not win voice-mail salutations from Justin Bieber, is a bundle of 250 Facebook Credits, the virtual currency that's being used for payments in dozens of wildly popular third-party games on the Facebook developer platform. It's notable that the virtual currency is now a desirable giveaway item--as if being sold via gift cards at Target stores wasn't enough, this is another one of those minor signs that, yes, Mark Zuckerberg managed to invent his own monetary unit, and it's caught on. That's something that Justin Bieber hasn't done...yet.