Picture: Masi Losi

Pretoria - Pictures of city streets, monuments and sights, national symbols, insignia and good wishes have accompanied the picture of a Pretoria schoolboy’s project as it travels the unrestricted social network streets, being shared over 35 000 times and being seen by no less than 2 million people over the past week.

Featuring a smiling Ruben Venter holding a placard asking how many times the picture could travel in six days, the picture has been to almost every state in the US, Europe, Asia and back to Africa.

“We never expected it to become so big, it seemed like a great idea for his science project so we decided to do it,” his excited mother, Drika Venter, said on Monday.

It was school holidays last weekend, and the Queenswood Primary School lad had six days to come up with and execute his Grade 1 science project.

“We came across this social network project done by an American boy and thought why not, and the next thing we knew it had overwhelming support,” she said.

The mother took the picture and posted it online late on the evening of Sunday, July 13, and within 24 hours it had been shared more than 3 000 times.

The six-year-old boy’s picture went viral, and in the next week the likes doubled and tripled every hour, comments coming in thick and fast as social network Facebook users shared it with their friends and followers.

“Warm greetings from the tropical paradise of Indonesia, with her Capital City Jakarta and Bali Island number 1 tourist attraction in east Asia”; “Your project has made it all the way to Kandahar, Afghanistan”; “Yay, you got Hollywood”; and “Hi Ruben from New Brighton in the city of Christchurch, in the South Island of New Zealand!!! Cool experiment, good on you!!”; are just some of the comments that encouraged the boy.

Pictures from Disneyland, kangaroos in Australia, German town Bremen’s mascot and boats floating on a lake in Denmark were posted on Ruben’s Project Facebook page.

Positive feedback had dominated all pages on which the project had been shared, but some negative comments had been made, Venter said.

“Some asked why I’d risk my son’s safety by putting him on Facebook, others asked how this counts as science,” she said.

It would all be taken within their stride, she said, adding that a few important lessons had emerged from the project. “A warning I hope young people will note, is the speed with which something posted on social media pages… travels.”

A hateful picture, a prank, or just plain joking around could get out of control within no time, she added.

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