This week, many Facebook users changed their profile pictures to the white equal sign on a red background in support of same-sex marriage. The Human Rights Campaign, which supports LGBT rights, encouraged people to change their profile pictures as the Supreme Court heard two cases regarding the legality of same-sex marriage.
Now Facebook has crunched the numbers of how and where the campaign went viral. Although the report doesn’t explicitly suggest that users changed their profile photo to the equal sign, more than twice as many users — about 120 percent more — updated their profile photo this Tuesday, the day when oral arguments on the same-sex marriage ban in California began, than the previous Tuesday.
Facebook data scientist Eytan Bakshy wrote on the company blog: “For a long time, when people stood up for a cause and weren’t all physically standing shoulder to shoulder, the size of their impact wasn’t immediately apparent. But today, we can see the spread of an idea online in greater detail than ever before. That’s data well worth finding.”
Other statistics pointed out by Bakshy include the fact that people close to the age of 30 were more likely to change their profile photo to the equal sign but roughly 3.5 percent of 30-year-old users changed their profile photo.
Geographicaly, the county with the most support for the same-sex marriage campaign is Washtenaw County, Michigan, home to the University of Michigan. Most of the top 25 counties in the Facebook survey that supported same-sex marriage had college towns. Large cities like New York City and Los Angeles, however, only showed moderate bumps in support.