What The Developers Behind The American Flag Profile Pic Want You To Know
By Kim Wilson
ICYMI – this upcoming weekend is July 4th, a federal holiday celebrating the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776. Lots of people are very proud of the nation they call home and will choose to celebrate it with barbeques, fireworks shows and the display of the American Flag.
This does not mean these burger-toting people are anti-Pride. Some might be. But not all. And certainly not by default. Yet somehow the American Flag has become something that has half the Internet checking-twice.
Rich Brookfield and a friend were bored last weekend. Instead of watching sports, hitting the beach or grabbing a beer, they decided to do a little web programming. (These guys are nerds. They wouldn’t mind me saying so.) “In this divided climate, we really wanted to do something that brought people together. We wanted to remind folks that despite our differences, we also have things in common.”
They whipped up this app in a matter of hours. It’s nifty. You can change your profile pic to have a light overlay of the stars and stripes. They did it to celebrate the 4th of July (and because they’re nerds). “We were really excited that we got it working and couldn’t wait to see our feeds full of pictures of the flag. We didn’t know if it would catch traction, but we hoped for the best,” said Brookfield.
The internet exploded. Tens of thousands of downloads before they could blink.
Unbeknownst to them, flag overlays started to take on an entirely different connotation in some corners of the world wide web. Brookfield says they were crushed: “We had no idea that people would use the American flag to ostracize another group of people. It is the exact opposite of what we believe it stands for.”
The duo has worked hard to combat blogs and articles that had mistakenly tied their app to the anti-Pride movement. And it does seem that the message is coming through. They’re now seeing more than three thousand people per hour using their app.
Brookfield says despite what’s happened, he’s really glad to see most people embracing the app for what he meant it to be: “We just wanted to do something positive for the 4th.”
Kim Wilson is the President and Founder of SocialNewsDesk. She regularly writes and speaks on social media best practices for journalists and news organizations. You can connect with Kim @kimsnd on Twitter.