Opinion

Watch a Facebook Photo Go Viral

There are now more than one billion people using Facebook every month, and there’s no doubt that a huge number of them are sharing photos. To help illustrate what that means, the company teamed up with design studio Stamen to create animated visualizations of three different pictures going viral. The results are totally mesmerizing.

In the short videos, the photos spread in branches, each one starting from a different person. As the pictures are shared by more people, new branches sprout off from the previous ones, with each color representing a different gender and the colors fading to white as time passes. The forms look wonderfully organic, like groups of tiny organisms moving under a microscope. There are periodic, pulsing bursts of activity that remind me of fireworks, and meanwhile, the tendrils of the photo maps spread out as if they were time-lapse videos of plants growing.

It’s also sort of interesting to look at the photos themselves, all of them shared by Star Trek actor George Takei on his Facebook page, which has 2.8 million likes. The most popular (video at top) is your classic inspirational meme, “Famous Failures,” but I’m partial to the least popular one (video above), a hilarious picture of the ladies from British sitcom Absolutely Fabulous at the London 2012 Olympics, one of them using the torch to light her cigarette.

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