The Department of Justice has spent $1.2 million on a website which depicts cartoon cellphones engaging in real-life dating scenarios, in an effort to help teens define their “digital line” as it pertains to relationship abuse.
The website, ThatsNotCool.com, which is operated through the DOJ’s Office on Violence Against Women, is perhaps the cheesiest government-funded ad campaign in recent memory.
The site features a series of cartoon videos as well as “callout cards,” which teens can send to their “textual harassers,” or people who send intrusive text messages.
The first video featured on the site, titled “Password,” shows two female cellphone characters sitting on a city bench. One character is typing away on her body, which is also a cellphone keypad.
“I should know your profile password,” says one character to her girlfriend. “It’s no big deal. We’ve been together for a long time now.”
The second cellphone is worried about the invasion of privacy, saying that she is not comfortable giving her social media passwords to her girlfriend or anyone else.
“What should I do?” she asks.
Another video, titled “Show Me Your Battery,” asks “Is it OK to pressure someone for nude pics?”
Besides the Office on Violence Against Women, ThatsNotCool.com is co-sponsored by the Ad Council and the non-profit group, Futures Without Violence.
The DOJ awarded the $1.2 million grant to Futures Without Violence, which is based in San Francisco.
While the program has generated little buzz, raising questions over whether it is cost-effective, the deputy director of the Office on Violence Against Women claims it has been successful.
“So far the campaign has produced strong results in raising awareness of the issue and available resources, including over 3 million website visits and 77,000 Facebook fans,” deputy director Bea Hanson testified to the Senate Judiciary committee earlier this month.
“A critical part of this project addresses cyberstalking by helping teens define their ‘digital line’ as it relates to relationship and dating abuse.”
The “That’s Not Cool” site also features “Callout Cards,” which are meant to be printed and shared. One card reads “Congrats! With that last text you’ve achieved stalker status.”
Another reads, “You’re much more attractive when you’re not textually harassing me.”
Other outreach efforts include an ambassador program which aims to groom young leaders to help raise awareness over dating and relationship violence.
Funding for the program extends through Sept. 2014, according to the website USASpending.gov. The Office on Violence Against Women did not immediately return a request for comment.