What Your Rainbow Facebook Photo Really Reveals

June 30th 2015

Laura Donovan

On Friday, much of the internet celebrated the U.S. Supreme Court's affirmation of the constitutional right for same-sex marriage. Though not everyone supported the ruling, more than 26 million Facebook users encouraged the #LoveWins sentiment by utilizing the social media platform's "celebrate pride" picture editing tool that places a rainbow on a user's profile image.

Celebrate Pride

This isn't the first time a trend has swept across Facebook in support of the LGBT community. Two years ago, LGBT rights group Human Rights Campaign inspired millions of Americans to change their Facebook profile image to the organization's logo to gear up for two Supreme Court decisions on marriage equality cases. According to a research paper on the campaign, users were more likely to use the logo for their profile pictures if many of their friends had done so.

"While the number of friends played a role in the adoption dynamics, so did demographic characteristics and the general propensity of the individual to change their profile picture," the report reads. "[T]he adoption curve is consistent with a heterogeneous-threshold model, in which the probability of adoption depends on both the number of friends and the susceptibility of the individual."

What viral social media movements tell your friends

While participating in a social media trend may hardly seem like a way to make a positive impact on the world, sociologist Philip Howard told the Washington Post that such photos can show others where you stand on certain issues.

“Profile picture campaigns are effective in showing the friends and family in your social network that you have some affinity for a political candidate or cause,” Howard said. “Policy changes are not usually the outcome.”

As The Post pointed out, however, policy change isn't the only way to change the climate around social issues.

"[O]ur social attitudes are informed largely by what we believe is standard or acceptable in our social group as a whole," Caitlin Dewey writes. "Profile pictures, arguably, are a very particular and effective type of message. They don’t dictate how you should or must behave, as laws and PSAs typically do; instead, they simply tell you how your peers are behaving. In other words, they support marriage equality; why don’t you?"

Here's how the internet initially reacted to the historic Supreme Court decision:

Love is Trending. Here are the Powerful Internet Reactions...

Love is Trending. Here are the Powerful Internet Reactions...

Posted by ATTN: on Friday, June 26, 2015


As a reminder, we celebrate LGBT Pride month in June because of what happened at the Stonewall Inn in 1969.


The Surprisingly Violent History of LGBT Pride Month

The Surprisingly Violent History of LGBT Pride Month

Posted by ATTN: on Sunday, June 7, 2015