Red Equal Sign

Red Equal Sign

Updated Oct 18, 2013 at 12:49AM EDT by Brad.  

Added by Brad.

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Red Equal Sign is a banner image of an equality sign based on the official logo of The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the largest LGBT equality-rights advocacy and lobbying group in the United States. In March 2013, more than 10 million Facebook and Twitter users replaced their profile avatars with the logo in support of same-sex marriage.


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 LGBT rights advocacy group Human Rights Campaign[1] posted a Facebook status update urging its followers to change their Facebook profiles to its official “equal sign” logo in pink and red color scheme. In less than 24 hours, the post garnered more than 16,900 likes and 60,000 shares.

Notable Developments

Online Reaction

Human Rights Campaign’s new profile photo quickly spread across the social networking site, reaching more than 9 million people and 77,000 shares directly from the group’s Facebook page. In the following hours, several celebrities and public figures picked up on the trend by switching their profile photos on Facebook and Twitter, from actor George Takei and singer Lance Bass to Maryland governor Martin O’Malley and at least 13 United States Congress members.

News Media Coverage

By early morning on March 26th, the Facebook profile trend had been picked up by Mashable[2], TIME Magazine[3], ABC[7], MSNBC[5] and CNN,[4] not to mention its spread across other social media platforms such as Twitter and Instagram. In contrast, Vice published a column titled “The Red Marriage Equality Sign on Your Facebook Profile is Completely Useless,”[6] expressing skepticism towards the trend as “just another form of passive activism that isn’t advancing the cause.”

Facebook Analysis

On March 29th, Facebook data scientist Eytan Bakshy[9] reported 2.7 million users on the site changed their profiles on Tuesday, March 26th, a 120% increase from the Tuesday prior. 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, with 3.5% of all 30-year-old Facebook users switching out their profile photo for a Red Equal Sign variant. 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 (shown below).

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