Facebook’s rainbow filter tool allows users to add some color to their profile photo, and display their support for LGBT rights.
Although more than 26 million people have used the filter, some sources suggest the “Celebrate Pride” tool is part of a social experiment.
It is unclear whether Facebook offered the feature in an attempt to collect data. However, the social media giant has conducted similar “experiments” in the past.
In 2012, Facebook conducted an unusual social experiment — which was based on user status updates.
For a period of one week, Facebook skewed users’ news feed to increase or decrease the amount of negative content. They then recorded the users’ comments and posts, which were analyzed for positive and negative content.
As reported by The Atlantic, Facebook determined users’ emotions and moods are influenced by what they read online — specifically through social media.
In 2013, scientists analyzed Facebook profile photos to determine “what factors contributed to a person changing his or her profile photo to the red equals sign” — which is a symbol for human rights and equality.
— Daily Mail Online (@MailOnline) June 29, 2015
As discussed in the study, an estimated “three million Facebook users changed their profile picture to one of an equals sign to express support of same-sex marriage.”
The researchers concluded users who were easily influenced, and had a higher number of Facebook friends, were more likely to change their photo to an equals sign. Although the equals sign was not developed by Facebook, the social media giant did provide data for the study.
On Monday, the United States Supreme Court announced a decision — which will allow same-sex marriage in all 50 states. Following the decision, millions of people used Facebook’s rainbow filter to alter their profile photos.
— Caitlin Dewey (@caitlindewey) June 29, 2015
As reported by Gizmodo, a spokesperson denied claims that the Facebook rainbow filter is a test or an experiment. Although the “spokesperson didn’t deny that the social network was tracking which users support gay marriage,” Facebook confirmed the altered profile photos will not be used “as a way to target ads.”
Facebook has approximately one billion active users, whose information is recorded and stored. However, it is unclear what the social media giant will do with that data.
Although the Facebook rainbow filter is not part of a test or experiment, it is unknown whether the social media site will provide the users’ information to third parties.
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