Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Facebook’s Gay Marriage Map

bert and ernie hrc

If you’re a certain kind of person, with a certain kind of circle of friends, you are completely aware that a whole lot of Facebook users changed their profile picture this week.

That’s the result of a very effective viral push, kicked off by the Human Rights Campaign, to show support for gay marriage as the issue came before the Supreme Court.

But just how effective? Facebook has taken a stab at crunching some numbers, and come to this conclusion: On Tuesday, the day after the campaign started, an extra 2.7 million U.S. Facebook users changed their profile. That’s about 120 percent more than you’d see on an average day.

Other data points, via Facebook researcher Eytan Bakshy:

  • Your age influenced how likely you were to change your profile picture, and 30-year-olds were most likely to swap out images — perhaps as many as 3.5 percent of them.
  • Women (2.3 percent) were slightly more likely to change their profile pictures then men (2.1 percent).
  • Not surprisingly, people in college towns and in many urban areas were more likely to make the switch. But not every big city: Los Angeles, Chicago and New York City showed lower switch rates than San Francisco and Washington D.C.

Here’s a map that gives you a sense of Facebook’s best guess of how this broke down geographically, by county: The brighter the color, the more switchers. (And if you’re wondering about the bright mark in northern Minnesota, that’s likely because St. Louis County is lightly populated except for Duluth, which is both a college town and a city that likes to refer to itself as “the little San Francisco.“)

Click to enlarge:

Facebook marriage equality map


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