COLLEGEVILLE, Pa. (WLVT) — The hashtag “challenge accepted” has taken social media by storm.
It features black-and-white selfies of women, but there’s been a lot of confusion about the message. The posts claim to promote female empowerment, and celebrities from Jennifer Aniston to Khloe Kardashian have joined in.
Still, there's conflicting theories as to the origins of the “challenge.” Previous iterations date back to a 2016 cancer awareness campaign. Writer Mina Tumay claims it’s actually about raising awareness about femicide, or the killing of women, in Turkey.
Thousands of women have been killed in Turkey stemming from a practice known as honour killing. According to the United Nations, if shame is incurred upon a family, under circumstances including having a child out of wedlock or being the victim of rape, male relatives may kill a woman for allegedly bringing shame to the family name.
The true origin of the campaign remains unsolved. According to the New York Times, both Instagram and Facebook are also trying to find out what this challenge is really about.
"We all need to get into the habit of checking the facts," Lynne Edwards, professor of media and communication at Ursinus College, told PBS39. "As far as celebrities go, they fall into that category of people we need to fact check. My ‘spidey sense’ goes off with these posts. Does this person have a movie coming out? Does this person show a lifelong commitment to this particular issue?"
If you’re clicking blindly, she says, you’re more likely participating in “clicktivism.” That’s when you support something online, but don't necessarily take action to back up that cause in real life.
"In order to show that I support my friend, I click ‘yes.’ But that click, out of friendship, can also be seen as an act of activism. It’s probably the lowest level of activism possible, but it could conceivably become the first step towards actual action," said Edwards.
She sees parallels between "challenge accepted" and the black boxes posted on Instagram in June that were intended to support black voices.
"Anything that falls under the reflexive action would fall under the category of people not being fully aware. I also suspect that some of this is people wanting to appear to support something, just with a click," she said. "That doesn't mean they actually believe in it."
People who unwittingly participated in “challenge accepted” posts, she says, should use this as an educational moment. She says before jumping on any social media bandwagon, it's important to do some research about the purpose of the posts.
"We can make a misstep and grow from it," said Edwards.
Watch the video version of this story in the player below.