The politics of changing your Facebook picture

6:21 PM, Mar 27, 2013   |    comments
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  • This is symbol that has been spread virally on the internet.
  • Michael Yoder, head of Grand Rapids LinkedIn, and Social Media expert explains social media politics.

(WZZM) -- What is up with all the red on social media? Thousands of Facebook and Twitter users across the country have changed their profile pictures to a red square with an equal sign. The symbol stands for marriage equality.

It started when the Human Rights Campaign, a group that works for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender equal rights, changed their normally blue and yellow symbol to red and pink. HRC then encouraged others to show their support as the Supreme Court discusses the gay marriage issue.

"I think it is, in essence, a virtual yard sign. We see political campaigns that have their yard signs all over town," says Michael Yoder, a social media expert and head of Linkedin Grand Rapids.

Showing support for an issue with a symbol isn't anything new. Before the internet woman suffragettes wore yellow ribbons. In the 1960s the peace symbol was used to show disagreement with the Vietnam War, and more recently the internet went black to show its frustration with SOPA, as opponents said it was internet censorship.

The question then is, how effective is this form of protest? "I love the John Mayer song Belief because he says 'has anyone changed their mind because of the paint on a sign or because someone yelled real loud?'" explains Yoder.

Not everyone is a fan of the equal sign profile change. A popular tweet making its way around the internet reads, "Quit changing your damn profile pictures to red equal signs. You accomplish nothing. Nobody cares." Advocates of traditional marriage have their own avatars to protest the protest with pictures of a man and women or a picture of a cross.

Ultimately it is the Supreme Court Justices that people are trying to convince. "A landmark decision by the Supreme Court Justices like this-- should that be made based on people changing their avatars on Facebook?" questions Yoder.

Whether you agree with it, or think it is effective, all of this attention has happened in just two days, showing the power of social media.

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