Like many LGBT activists, on the afternoon (east coast time) of August 4th, 2010, I was obsessed with tapping my computer's refresh button. I was waiting for Prop 8 to be overturned. Almost two hours after I began my obsessive refresh clicking, the page re-loaded. I, like millions of others in the 'equality for all' community, was beyond thrilled. A huge step towards our quest for full equality had been achieved.
When I was waiting for the ruling to come down, I had a number of windows open on my computer. One window had streaming live video from outside the courtroom in San Francisco, another had my Facebook account, another screen had the special site that was set up for the Prop 8 ruling, and in another window I had my Twitter stream.
Twitter Spreads the Word
The flow of information about Prop 8 being overturned went something like this. I discovered through a tweet on Twitter that Prop 8 was overturned, but it also had a caveat that it was 'unofficial'. Moments later, hundreds of tweets proclaiming that Prop 8 had been overturned began to populate. Tweets were being 'retweeted' at mass.
I clicked over to the window that had my Facebook page. The same thing began to occur. Facebook statuses claiming that Prop 8 had "unofficially" been overturned were appearing. I clicked back to the screen that had the live streaming video. The small crowd outside the courtroom didn't appear to know that rumors were flying around that Prop 8 was overturned.
The audio from the newscaster came on and said something to the effect that they were still standing by for official word from inside the courtroom. The newscaster did not seem to know that the news had already begun to spread virally across the Web. I gave up on the live video feed and kept toggling between my Twitter and Facebook account for the official word.
About five minutes after the "unofficial" news hit Twitter, the official news came and Twitter and Facebook exploded with excitement. The most common tweet I saw was "Prop 8 Overturned." Ten minutes later, the newscaster informed us that Prop 8 had been overturned.
Prop 8 Rises to Become a Trending Topic
On August 5th, 2010, one day after Prop 8 was overturned, it became a trending topic on Twitter. If you're not on Twitter, then you may not know what something like this means.
According to ChaCha, it takes approximately 1,200 tweets for something to become a trending topic on Twitter. This means that over 1,200 tweets were being spread across the Twitosphere, allowing our messages of 'equality for all' to spread virally across the Web.
According to "What the Hashtag," over 4,200 tweets with the hashtag #prop8 were shared on August 4th and August 5th, 2010. In case you don't know, a hashtag is simply a term that is used to code a tweet so that it can be grouped with other tweets that contain the same tag. The statistic pulled by What the Hashtag only include #prop8 and not other possible iterations like #proposition8 or #equality.
Twitter Delivers Results
According to recent statistics, Twitter has over 26 million users and according to GigaTweet, delivers over 1,000 tweets per second. This type of viral dialogue is what the LGBT community needs in order to spread its 'equality for all' messaging.
In a previous post, I discussed how important social media was for the LGBT equality movement. The use of Twitter for Prop 8 is just one example of how quickly news and information can spread amongst our online communities.
Isn't it time you consider Twitter?