In an article posted on the Fast Company website, an overview is given to some of the analysis that the Facebook Data Science Team cooked up. You can find it here. What's especially interesting about this event is how it's given researchers some significant insights into activism and how different demographics respond. The team observed that 120% more users (than the previous Tuesday) changed their profile picture over the course of a day. As you can see below, after applying a time-series model, the data shows a very obvious, positive trend.
The team used the changes to indicate the "stance" of each user on the marriage-equality issue. This resulted in giving the team data on the gender of "activists" as well as their age. Even more interestingly, it gave them geographic information in the form of frequency per county (below). Wouldn't you love to have access to their numbers? To read the full break down, visit here.
Further, as we've discussed in class, there is a lot that one can learn from the images themselves. I was interested that the team didn't do any data extraction on the actual images. I think that one reason might be that as the images were saved and re-saved as they transferred from user to user, the quality of the picture degraded (as you can see below). Thus, pixel data may have been skewed. But, I ask the question because I observed a lot of people I know changing their profile pictures in support of Proposition 8 (the legislation in question) which is in opposition of equal marital rights (as defined as man and woman). So, the mere fact that profile pictures were changing doesn't necessarily (to me) represent a full indication of the frequency of support of one side or the other. My observations were that people were changing their picture (in large part) as a response to what others were doing.
In closing, I think that the truly significant and telling statistics would be things like:
- The amount of people that changed their profile picture and are registered to vote.
- Or, that have ever written/called/have heard of their state elected officials.
- Or, made any other action whatsoever outside of clicking "edit profile picture".