On the Facebook rainbow profile pic phenomena.

By now you’re probably aware of the Facebook rainbow profile pic phenomena.

In the wake of the US Supreme Court decision to legalise gay marriage nation wide, Facebook instituted a feature to allow someone to rainbowify their profile picture.

Whenever someone changed their profile picture, the link to change the profile picture was displayed with it.

This was very much a viral phenomena, in that it required people to see someone on their newsfeed changing their profile picture, before you had the option to option to change it. It’s not like Facebook displayed a flashing banner to all Facebook users alerting them of this feature.

So I thought this was cool, and I changed my profile picture as soon as I saw it.

I took this screenshot of my chat list at the time.

I’ve rotated the screen cap to the right, so it fits on the page nicely.

Through out the day I saw about 30 people of my ~300 Facebook friends change their profiles. Certainly a lot of people were changing their profiles, but the penetration wasn’t as complete as I thought I might be. Ok, sure some of my Facebook friends might not be active enough to see the phenomena (you have to actually see the profile pic change on your newsfeed to see the link), and others, (as was the case for at least one of my friends), might not have seen the link and realised how easy it was.

However, it seems apparent to the people not changing their profile pictures were making a concious decision not too. There’s no way you could all the profile picture changes, see the link and it not occur to you to change your profile pic either.*

*I guess to be fair, some people might have seen it as ‘just a meme’ that they’re just not that into.

The way I see it, there are two reasons one might not rainbowify their profile pic.

1. They don’t support gay marriage.

I would suspect that for at least a few of my Facebook friends, this would be the case.

2. Resisting ‘bandwagoning’.

That is – recognising that the reason everyone else is doing it, is because everyone else is doing it, and asserting your sense of identity by not following the social trend.

And certainly I saw a few posts the reflected this:


Or my personal favourite:


I agree that the reason people, including myself, were changing their profile pictures is was more to take part in a social trend, than soley to express their support of gay marriage. That is, peoples’ feelings were ‘I support gay marriage, and hey this trend is cool’.

But I think what’s important here, is that the social trend has a good feeling behind it. It’s similar to the ice bucket challenge, totally harmless, but is in support of a good cause.

And fun viral social phenomenas are fun! 😀 They’re very interesting – given that everyone does infact inhabit the same world, it’s interesting to see what we can do when we all have a common purpose. (In this case, rainbowifying our profile pictures xD).

Here’s what my chat list is looking like tonight. Curiously enough, this is the most populated I’ve seen it, and it’s more than half a week later. I’ve even changed my profile pic back. Most of the profile pic changes I saw, were in the first day.

rainbow 3

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