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Facebook has become saturated with videos of people dumping buckets of ice on their heads.|
They’re taking the#icebucketchallenge, a viral phenomenon whose ostensible purpose is to raise money for charity. The challenge is simple: Either donate $100 to a given cause, or douse yourself with ice, film it, and pass the challenge on to others via social media.
TheBoston Globe, Mashable, and others have followed the nonprofit ALS Association in crediting the idea to Pete Frates, a 29-year-old former Boston College baseball player who was diagnosed with ALS in 2012.
That makes for a nice origin story, but it’s not quite accurate. Matt Lauer’s challenge, along with that of Martha Stewart and many others, predated Frates’ involvement and had nothing to do with ALS. Rather, it came from a dare that was circulating among a group of pro athletes. Those who declined the ice bath were compelled to give $100 to charity of the challenger’s choice.
It’s hard to blame the ALS Association, then, for commandeering the bandwagon, or even for the bit of revisionist history in which the nonprofit credited Frates as its originator. Turning a pointless viral meme to noble ends can only be a good thing.
And the campaign is clearly working: The ALS Association told Fox Boston that it has raised $1.35 million in the past two weeks. It raised just $22,000 in the same period last year.