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Facebook Analysis of Viral Campaign Maps Geographic Breakdown Of Marriage Equality Stances


In a Facebook post titled, "The Unequal Adoption of Equal Signs," users Bogdan State and Lada Adamic have broken down the "equal sign" phenomenon which seemingly overran the social networking site in March of this year.

HRCTheir study found that 2.77 million users in the U.S. changed their profile picture to an equal sign in support of marriage equality, in an effort spurred by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). Those statistics were then used to indicate which geographic areas (broken down into roughly 100,000 person sections) had the greatest adoption rates.

Some of the findings were less than surprising, namely that areas along the east and west coasts, and around the Great Lakes, had the highest percentages of Facebook users changing their profile pictures to the equal signs. Others, including the breakdown of Facebook users in some of the nation's larger urban areas (including New York) were more telling. 

The Washington Post reports:

While many cities saw high rates of participation in the campaign, the new analysis shows that there was in some cases great variation within cities.

NYC“These striking differences at the level of urban areas could be the either the result of large geographical differences in terms of support for marriage equality, or they could be the result of lack of connectivity between social networks that made the phenomenon less likely to catch on in certain regions,” Facebook’s Bogdan State and Lada Adamic wrote  Monday afternoon.

In New York, adoption was highest in Manhattan and the parts of Brooklyn and Queens closest to it. But the rates of people changing their profile pictures were very low in the Bronx, outer Brooklyn and Queens, parts of Long Island, Staten Island and New Jersey.

Other statistics showed that people around the age of thirty were most likely to change their picture, and that many of the twenty-five counties with the highest rate of equal signs contained college towns.  

Check out more pictures of the geographic breakdown on Facebook and in the Washington Post article

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  1. The colors on the map are a little misleading, as is the writing in their Facebook post.

    What looks like a wide variance--given the color range--is really small. The top range (darkest red) is only >0.040%--a tiny number (yet they refer to it as "high levels of adoption").

    And yes, >0.040% could mean anything up to 100%, but in reality, if it were any higher than 0.05%, they'd have used that as the upper limit.

    I'm not sure the data supports the breathless hyperbole of their post.

    Posted by: Tatts | Dec 10, 2013 4:35:48 PM

  2. The only interesting thing I found here is that Mormon-Central (Utah) seems to have more color and even some red in the Salt Lake City area compared to some of the Southern states.

    Posted by: Lexis | Dec 10, 2013 5:29:12 PM

  3. The darker red in eastern North Dakota is also interesting.

    Posted by: MikeMB | Dec 10, 2013 9:49:13 PM

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