SOCIAL media users around the world can’t get enough of gay rights and marriage equality, according to a recent analysis of the most-shared news stories on social networks like Facebook and Twitter.
A three-month analysis by the team at Share Wars, an Australian project looking at how media stories travel online, found that the terms ‘gay’ and ‘marriage’ were both in the top 10 for terms included in the headlines of news stories shared by social media users between March-June this year. The word ‘gay’ was only robbed of top spot by the term ‘you’.
Share Wars was started in 2011 by Ninemsn editor-in-chief Hal Crawford and Andrew Hunter, who is editor-in-chief of Microsoft’s Windows 8 Bing apps. The pair said the results of the analysis were surprising, which also found that Facebook comprehensively beat Twitter for sharing power.
“We came to the Share Wars project believing most sharing was about passing on information in an altruistic, ‘I thought you’d be interested’ kind of way,” the duo wrote on their blog.
“The data revealed a different picture, with around two thirds of top-shared stories in what we call the ‘norming’ category: an appeal to group identity, usually involving a moral judgment [such as] gay marriage.”
With nearly a quarter of a million followers on Facebook, the Gay Marriage Rights in Australia page is one of the most popular social media feeds for LGBTI causes and news in the country and across the world.
Melody Gardiner, the page’s lead administrator, told the Star Observer that it was likely that many social media users were tapping into a larger mindset when they shared stories on gay issues.
“What we are really sharing with our friends is our dream for a better world. Sharing connects us with others who share this dream and our values,” she said.
“In Australia, I think sharing these stories has become a way of connecting us with something bigger and showing we are united with thousands of others just like us who want change and who are together taking action in their daily lives to make this dream happen.”
The popularity of gay rights within the digital world was further highlighted last weekend, when the technology industry’s LGBTI forum, InterTech, hosted an “LGBT hackathon” at Facebook’s London headquarters during which 50 developers from across the UK worked together non-stop until Sunday night.
Their ultimate goal was to collaborate intensively on software projects, including apps to simplify hate crime reporting, coming out support guides, events trackers, and a web tool for the use of LGBTI students.
InterTech, which has the backing of many leading technology corporations, was formed only a few months ago to harness the growing power of technology to advocate for the greater acceptance of LGBTI people.
“It is widely acknowledged that the internet has been a driving force in the growing acceptance of LGBT people within Western societies,” InterTech chairperson Asher Ismail said.
“It has broken down barriers and services such as Facebook have enabled people to see that same-sex relationships are nothing other than ordinary.”
Facebook engineer Jack Gabbard, who led the recent hackathon, said one of the company’s goals was to make the world more open and connected.
“I’m really excited to facilitate and participate in an event where we can focus on trying to solve problems that prevent people from being who they are. InterTech has done an amazing job of pulling together a group of talented people under the banner of improving the world for LGBT people,” he said.