Oct. 7, 2010 -- Want to know where women "like it"? Check out your Facebook newsfeed.
In status updates across the social networking site, women around the world are going risqué with suggestive messages saying, "I like it on the floor," "I like it on the kitchen counter" and even "in the back seat of my car."
Despite the naughty-sounding notes, they're not referring to places to pucker up, but rather places to leave their purses.
The origins of the viral campaign are unknown, but over the past few days potentially millions of women across Facebook have posted the messages in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Though the purse reference itself doesn't seem to bear any direct relationship to breast cancer and has left many men (and maybe women) scratching their heads, crowds of women continue to rally behind the viral message.
This latest Internet meme is similar to the bra color status update that swept Facebook in January. As part of that campaign, women on Facebook randomly posted the color on their bras on their status updates to raise awareness for breast cancer research.
Critics Say Campaign Is Too Silly for a Serious Disease
According to the Internet culture site Urlesque, the chain message for the "I like it on" campaign reads: "Remember last year the post about what color bra you were wearing at the moment? The purpose was to increase awareness of October Breast Cancer Awareness month. It was a tremendous success and we had men wondering for days what was with the colors and it made it to the news. This year's game has to do with your handbag/purse, where we put our handbag … Just put your answer as your status with nothing more than that and cut n paste this message and forward to all your FB female friends to their inbox. The bra game made it to the news. Let's see how powerful we women really are!!!"
Some of the more common places women seem to "like it" include the kitchen table and the dresser. But other women have singled out "the roof of my car," "the exam table" and "the park."
Rachel Normandin, 42, of Woonsocket, R.I., changed her status update to "I like it on my TV tray" after she noticed a friend of hers join the fun.
"I just thought, 'Oh I'll give a try,'" she said, adding that she didn't know October was Breast Cancer Awareness Month until she spotted the viral message. "I'm hoping this will attract more knowledge and fun and spread the word."
But some familiar with the disease say the viral campaign is too silly for the serious issue.
"I don't believe in 'let's try to make this cute' because breast cancer isn't cute," said Krupali Tejura, a radiation oncologist based in Southern California. "I see patients dying every day. This is not funny."
She said that when someone forwarded the message to her, she deleted it, wondering who would actually take part.
Instead of wasting energy on a sexually-infused, cryptic message, she said, she'd rather see people posting direct messages about the disease. For example, a status update asking people if their mothers and sisters have had mammograms might be more effective, she said.
"Why not just be up front about what you're trying to raise awareness for?" she asked. "Everyone has their own opinion. …It's just surprising to me that people are [following this]."
Breastcancer.org 'Likes It On' the Web
While breast cancer groups say they don't know who started the meme, they hope it at least encourages women to learn more about the issue.
"We think that online events like this generate a lot of buzz," said John Hammarley, a spokesman for the nonprofit group Susan G. Komen for the Cure. "I think the value of these efforts is that it gets people thinking about their breast health and taking some [steps] to get informed."
The Facebook campaign doesn't drive women to a particular site or a specific action, but he hopes they look beyond the sexy messages and talk to their health care provider about their breast health or visit Komen.org to learn more.
Spotting an opportunity for education, the free online resource Breastcancer.org piggybacked on the Facebook campaign with a suggestive message of its own.
"Breastcancer.org 'likes it on' the web," the organization posted on its Facebook page today. "And no matter where you like it, do more for your girls. Visit www.breastcancer.org, it's free, easy to use and you can pass it to your friends; Breastcancer.org helps millions and counting, join us!"
Karen Young, director of marketing for Breastcancer.org, said that though the "I like it on" campaign rallied people around the cause, it lacked a call to action.
"What this has done that is so interesting is that it's engaged people. You have all these engaged people all teed up to think that this is about breast cancer but there's nothing behind it," she said. "We're… really tapping into this 'I like it on' trend."