If you’ve been on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram in the past 24 hours, you’ve seen it — the red equal sign, a symbol of support for same-sex marriage. The image has been searched more than 1 million times on Google and according to the Human Rights Campaign — the organization that created it — has been shared more than 100,000 times from its initial Facebook posting Monday afternoon.
But Fred Sainz, Human Rights Campaign’s Vice President of Communications and Marketing, says that “millions” more have used some form of the image, if not the organization’s original, then a version of their own. He credits the images’ instant virality to such celebrities as Beyonce, George Takei and Martha Stewart using the image, or some form of it, on their own social media accounts.
In the weeks leading up to the Supreme Court cases, Human Rights Campaign planned to change their normally blue and yellow logo to red for the duration of the two arguments: Proposition 8, California’s ban on same-sex marriage, and the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as only between a man and a woman.
“As an organizing color we chose the color of love,” Sainz said. “I think that’s why it’s been so impacting. You don’t really have to over think this.”
The popularity of the image has raised questions regarding what its impact will be on the same-sex marriage debate. A similar question was raised last year regarding whether Invisible Children’s viral Kony 2012 campaign would lead to action after its noticeable release. If millions of people share a message on social media, is that enough? Or is it just a form of lazy “armchair activism” that results in conversation but no action?
We’re asking: Do you think social media campaigns can influence change? Tell us in the comments below.