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The History

Human Rights Campaign (HRC) is founded in 1980 and known as  the largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans. HRC represent a force  of more than 1.5 million members and supporters nationwide [1].


The Background

According to Brad (2013), he stated that on March 25th 2013, the day before the beginning of the United States Supreme Court’s deliberation of California’s same-sex marriage ban known as Proposition 8, the Human Rights Campaign posted a Facebook status that urged the followers to change their Facebook profiles by HRC “equal sign” logo in pink and red color scheme. After 24 hours, this post received more than 16900 likes and 60000 shares.[2]


Notable Developments

Furthermore, this new profile photo became more popular across the social networking site, reaching more than 9 million people and 77000 shares directly from the official page on Facebook (Brad, 2013). In the following hours, many people around in world used this “equal sign” photo to replace their profile photos on Facebook and Twitter, one of them is actor George Takei.

069Beside, George Takei also persuade his followers changing their profile to support HRC and this post got over 81000 likes and over 40000 shares on Facebook [3]. By morning on March 26th, the Facebook profile trend had been discussed on Mashable, TIME Magazine, ABC, … and its spread across other social media platforms such as Twitter and Instagram.

UntitledAfter three day, on March 29th, Facebook data scientist Eytan Bakshy reported 2.7 million U.S Facebook users changed their profiles on Tuesday, March 26th. Many of these updates occurred after 1 PM EST, when the Human Rights Campaign made their first status update about the profile photos. Bakshy also found users close to 30 years old had the greatest increase in photo changes. Additionally, in the United States, counties hosting college towns saw larger amounts of support than counties hosting large cities including Los Angeles, Chicago and New York City [4].

488356_10151529090618415_1885945161_nCyclicality in profile photo uploads and trends revealed by a time series model. Dashed line indicates when HRC campaign was launched.


Relationship between age and profile photo changes


Estimated increase in profile changes for each county. Counties with more intense colors can be thought to have greater turnout as a result of the HRC equals campaign.


[1] http://www.hrc.org/the-hrc-story/about-us

[2] http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/events/red-equal-sign

[3] https://www.facebook.com/georgehtakei/posts/633371546692302

[4] https://www.facebook.com/notes/facebook-data-science/showing-support-for-marriage-equality-on-facebook/10151430548593859