On June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court officially declared same-sex marriage a constitutional right. Nowhere online supports this decision more clearly than Facebook.
That same morning, the social network quickly launched a tool Free, easy to use allows users to put a rainbow filter on their profile picture. The result is more than 1 million people changed their profile within the first few hours and over 26 million people to date have used the tool.
At , The Atlantic gave that profile photo filters could be part of a larger study that will examine the influence of social networks on cultural movements. Four months later, it turns out Atlantic was on the right track.
In honor of Independence Day on October 11 and #SpiritDay on October 15, Facebook recently published research examine the growth of LGBT support on its platform as well as the percentage of users reaching through social networks. Facebook defines “launching” as updating your profile to show same-sex attraction or custom gender designation (an action supported by another tool Facebook launched on February 2014 ).
The company found that more than 6 million Americans have accessed Facebook, with about 800,000 of those announcements taking place in the past year. In fact, Facebook reports that three times more people visit the network each day than it did a year ago.
The most obvious spike in this chart came after the Supreme Court’s landmark decision — 2.5 times more users visited Facebook that day than on Independence Day the year before.
The study also revealed that the breakdown of LGBT users on Facebook varies widely by state. Some trends may not surprise you — New York, for example, seems to have twice as many LGBT users as Alabama. However, others stand out, such as Nevada having one of the highest percentages of openly LGBT users.
However, updating profiles isn’t the only way Facebook users can show their support for the LGBT community. They may also become fans of sites like Campaign for Human Rights, GLAAD, or Equality Now.
Facebook found that about 5.7 million Americans are fans of at least one of the 300 most popular LGBT sites. This number has grown to nearly 25 percent over the past year, with the largest single increase occurring, again, on June 26.
Much of it is made up of Facebook’s unchecked power, which often sparks fear, anger, and criticism from users who don’t want a company to collect their personal information. However, the Facebook report is an example of how smart, educational content can make a difference. Social media has the power to influence social change, and one of Facebook’s greatest strengths may be its use of data to show us how.