For a growing number of people, coming out to friends and family is now as easy as changing your relationship status. A growing number of Americans are coming out on Facebook, according to a new study from the social media platform. Researchers Bogdon State and Nils Wernerfelt said in a blog post published Thursday that “the number of people on Facebook coming out per day is on track to be three times what it was a year ago.”
Coming out on Facebook means that users change their settings to indicate which gender or genders they are attracted to, creating a custom gender option on a user's website. The researchers also included in their count people who updated the website to say they were in a same-sex relationship.
Roughly 6 million of Facebook's U.S. users identify as LGBT and 800,000 came out in the last year, Facebook said. Many people opted to come out after a Supreme Court ruling in June that legalized gay marriage in every state. Overall, more than 800,000 people came out on the platform in the last year, Facebook said. Meanwhile, the total number of fans for the top 300 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender pages grew by around 25 percent last year.
"On a typical day, one out of every 10 people who change their 'interested in' status on Facebook do so to reflect a same-gender interest," wrote State and Wernerfelt. "On the day of the Supreme Court ruling, this ratio was double, one out of every five people. Additionally, in the days following the June 26 Supreme Court decision, we saw more than 26 million people display a rainbow filter on their profile picture."
After the Supreme Court decision, Facebook allowed users to use a rainbow profile picture filter for Pride Month and released it on the day of the Supreme Court decision. Roughly 26 million people added the filters to their photos after the ruling, The Hill reported.
Jay Brown, director of research and public education at Human Rights Campaign Foundation, said the research suggests visibility can help the LGBT community.
"In a year that's seen unprecedented coverage of LGBT people -- from major coming out moments to Supreme Court victories to tragedies shaking the community -- we see people becoming visible in their own lives," Brown said in an email to USA Today. "When people know us, they support us. And clearly social media is an incredible tool in making that possible."