• Thomson Reuters Foundation


The #10YearChallenge — posting a new photo of yourself next to an old one — is being repurposed by social media users to highlight more serious issues than aging faces, from climate change to the devastation of war.

The trend started on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter with users including celebrities Jennifer Lopez and Ellen DeGeneres posting their current profile pictures next to one from 10 years ago.

But users quickly flipped the theme to photos spotlighting global concerns including climate change and the destruction wreaked by war in countries including Syria, Yemen and Iraq.

Others took to social media to post side-by-side photos of melted glaciers and changes from the ocean floor, highlighting the impacts of climate change.

One user posted photos purporting to show Syria in 2009 and 2019 to illustrate the impact of the nearly eight-year-old civil war that has killed half a million people and forced more than half the country’s population from its homes.

“While the internet is bombarded with celebrities posting #10yearchallenge pictures, they seems to ignore the fact that their own elected govt has destroyed, cultural & residential areas of great value in past 10 years,” posted the user.

Nazanin Boniadi, an Iranian actress and human rights activist who has fought against her country’s ban on women attending soccer games, posted images of her fight for human rights in Iran.

“My kinda #10yearchallenge. Still at it and I don’t plan to stop. #Humanrights #Iran,” she wrote.

Some members of the LGBT+ community used the hashtag to speak about their personal challenges and struggles in society over the years, among them the transgender campaigner and filmmaker Fox Fisher.

“Look at this sad face 10 years ago. Shows how lost I was,” Fisher posted. “So happy that life got better. Trans people never stop being trans so please support them. #10YearChallenge #DecadeChallenge.”

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