Seen a few profile pictures change in support of gay marriage recently? The all-seeing eye of Facebook has seen quite a few, and from that ocean of data, it’s whipped up a comprehensive map of gay marriage support in the United States.
Facebook users switch up their profile pictures for no reason all the time, including right after the Human Rights Campaign started pushing its pink-on-red equals sign icon on Monday. But when you break down the data the way Facebook has, and account for the static, you can really see big results.
Nearly three million users changed their profile pictures last Tuesday alone. That’s a 120 per cent increase from the Tuesday before. According to Facebook’s calculations, the age group mostly like to be doing the changing as a result of the campaign are around 30. The hottest geographic area for change, as shown by the map above, was Washtenaw County — home of Ann Arbor, Michigan and the University of Michigan — which hit a peak of about 6 per cent equal signs.
It’s so much more than an army of copy-pasted icons, too. There’s a virtually endless collection of clever (but mostly not-at-all clever) pays on the symbol, incorporating just about even meme and in-joke that has ever refused to die. And it’s not just individuals either. Even huge brands like Bud Light have taken the opportunity to ride the viral wave and show some support at the same time. This is definitely a thing.
For all that data diving, Facebook itself didn’t show so much as a hint of support other than bringing the subject up in the first place. But the data goes to show that while changing your profile picture is symbolic at best, the trend’s spreading like wildfire. Obviously, you can support gay marriage without changing your profile picture, and Facebook’s probably not the most efficient way to effect change. But hopefully if nothing else it’s an indicator of a real shift in how we see a crucial civil rights issue. [Facebook]