The Facebook Like and Share are so ingrained into our day to day internet lives that they're more than just verbs, they're almost instinctual. But what does an inherently digital, formless thing like a Like actually look like? Well, a lot like this, actually.
Facebook Data Science collected data about the likes and shares of two extremely popular photos over the past few months. The first was of Petter Kverneng, who posted a Million Likes photo that was, essentially, an arrow pointing to a cute girl, saying she'd sleep with him if he got a million likes. Thanks to an avalanche of likes and shares, got them in less than 24 hours. What you see above is a visual representation of how the likes and shares spread out from Kverneng, at ground zero, and reached deeply disparate groups of people. The hot spots you see popping up are popular Facebook accounts sharing the original photo.
The other example is the photo of President Barack Obama hugging wife Michelle after he won re-election last November. It got nearly 600,000 shares, and made its way around the internet in a much different manner (MLM stands for Million Like Meme, OVP is Obama Victory Photo):
Almost half of the people who saw this photo saw it directly from following the Obama account, which makes sense, really, as does the fact that it was a mostly liberal audience (identified by those Facebook users identifying Very Liberal, Liberal, Neutral, Conservative, or Very Conservative) sharing the photo—though conservatives had a healthier split in actually getting in and commenting about it.
And of course, as befits the internet, there was a healthy schism between males and females between how the two photos were received. The users liking and sharing the Obama photo skewed slightly female, while the "Please Make This Girl Have Sex With Me" photo skewed heavily male. Although we probably didn't exactly need Facebook Data Science to figure that one out for us. [Facebook]