Facebook is arguably the best creative agency out there not just for the sheer size of its user base, but for what it does with that user base. Thanks to the overwhelming amount of metrics its 1.19 billion monthly active users supply it with, the top creative agency is able to observe consumer trends, target creepily specific audiences, and more.
Now, critics are thinking that the digital agency’s latest innovative strategy is just another way to track a specific demographic of users — same-sex marriage supporters.
On June 26, the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage, marking an historical moment in the history of the United States. For the first time in the history of Facebook, the social network released a tool that allowed users to put a transparent, rainbow filter over their profile picture to show solidarity with the decision.
The Atlantic cut to the quick, and asked Facebook if the new filter was “another experiment.” A spokesperson representing the creative agency responded directly, saying that “it’s not an experiment or a test — everyone sees the same thing.”
What the spokesperson did not say, though, is that the social network wasn’t tracking its’ users’ support of gay marriage, and adding it to the already massive database of personal information that the company has previously built.
The last time massive amounts of people changed their profile pictures in support of gay marriage, a Facebook data scientist published without much ado “The Diffusion of Support in an Online Social Movement,” an academic paper on the data collected by Facebook. This can be taken as evidence that Facebook is, in fact, paying close attention to the way people use its services to effect social and political change.
Of course, that’s no reason not to use the filter to show solidarity for gay marriage. This is an historic moment. Just remember that Facebook is business first, and social platform second. Great references here.