18% of Social Media Users Have Changed Profile Pictures for Issues, Events (Survey)

Some 18 percent of social media users have changed their profile pictures to draw attention to an issue or event, with 42 percent of those doing so in response to the terrorist attacks in Paris last November.

Some 18 percent of social media users have changed their profile pictures to draw attention to an issue or event, with 42 percent of those doing so in response to the terrorist attacks in Paris last November.

Those were among the findings of a new survey from Pew Research Center and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, which conducted the survey between Jan. 12 and Feb. 8, prior to the two recent terrorist bombings in Brussels and Lahore, Pakistan.

Adding rainbow color filters to profile pictures in support of LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) rights was also popular, with 21 percent of social media users who changed their profile pictures doing so in this manner.

Pew said 7 percent of overall social media users changed their profile pictures in support of Paris, and 4 percent did so to back LGBT rights, and its other findings included:

  • Other social or policy issues—which included abortion and gun control—accounted for 16 percent of changed profile pictures, with all other categories in the single-digits (disease awareness and research, other terrorist attacks or terrorism in general, elections and other tragedies).
  • 26 percent of liberal social media users changed their profile pictures in response to issues or events, compared with 16 percent of moderates and 14 percent of conservatives. That figure inches up to 30 percent for liberals between the ages of 18 and 49.
  • Females were more likely to change their social media profile pictures than males, and African Americans were more likely to do so than whites and Hispanics.
  • About one out of five users aged 18 through 29 and 30 through 49 changed their profile pictures, compared with 13 percent of those 50 through 65 and just 5 percent of those 65 and older.

Readers: Have you ever changed your profile pictures in response to issues or events?

PewProfilePictureChangesReasons PewProfilePictureChangesDemographics