Facebook simulation of Alzheimer’s

Posted under Blog on January 30th, 2014 by Editorial Team / No Comments

It is impossible to imagine what it would be like to have Alzheimer’s disease. We all have minor memory lapses, like forgetting where our keys are or getting lost in a new place. But few of us have experienced the terror of having no memory of being in a specific place at a certain time.

A recent campaign by Alzheimer Nederland, a Dutch Alzheimer’s group, has harnessed the power of Facebook to help the average person better understand the plight of Alzheimer’s sufferers. The effort, which ran in December, tagged random users in photos taken at events that they didn’t attend.

Using advanced photo editing techniques, the campaign added people to busy crowd shots around Amsterdam at events such as music concerts, food festivals and car exhibitions. People could nominate their friends to be added to the photos, and using Facebook’s advanced tagging system, the photo would appear on their timeline.

As expected, this caused mass confusion. People could experience for themselves what it is like to have Alzheimer’s disease, and the problems that these people face day-to-day. Over 1,500 photos were uploaded in total and the campaign has gained considerable publicity from Europe and the United States.

To kick start the campaign, the group began by adding photos of Dutch celebrities and politicians. "How disorientating is this? Being tagged in a photo of an event where you see you’re really there, but which you never went to. So this is what Alzheimer's patients feel like," said Jeroen van der Boom, a Dutch singer who was targeted by the campaign.

While the campaign may have caused momentary confusion for Facebook users, it successfully increased awareness of the realities of a disease which is so often misunderstood.  The campaign became an instant success, as Alzheimer Nederland reported a rise in engagement and donations.

Watch the video of the campaign here.

Tags: Alzheimer Nederland, Alzheimer's campaign, Facebook



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