More people are coming out on Facebook than ever before, according to data released by the social media giant. And no day saw stronger numbers than the day the Supreme Court upheld marriage equality as the law of the land.
Facebook says that users are “coming out” when they indicate on their profile that they are interested in same-sex partners or when they assign themselves one of Facebook’s custom genders—a feature Facebook introduced in February of last year.
On June 26, the day the Supreme Court released its ruling on marriage equality, Facebook users came out at a rate of 2.5 that of the previous year’s National Coming Out Day. As Facebook put it, “On a typical day, one out of every ten people who change their ‘interested in’ status on Facebook do so to reflect a same-gender interest. On the day of the Supreme Court ruling, this ratio was double, one out of every five people.”
The data reveals a shift in social norms brought on by the ruling—not only could same-sex couples marry, but LGBT people not currently considering marriage could feel more comfortable coming out in front of friends and relatives online.
But coming out didn’t just spike on the day of the Supreme Court’s ruling. According to Facebook, incidents of coming out have been rising all year. (Facebook released data focused between last year’s National Coming Out Day and this year’s.) Users have been steadily coming out at higher rates on Facebook, with the number of out users doubling since last year.
Facebook also reports that interest in LGBT groups has climbed. Roughly 5.7 million American Facebook users are fans of at least one LGBT-oriented Facebook page, such as Human Rights Campaign or GLAAD.
While the data isn’t perfect—Facebook acknowledges that the numbers could be somewhat skewed by the social network’s overall user growth—it does show a dramatic shift in how people reveal their sexuality on social media.
Illustration by Jason Reed