“What we saw last week was remarkable by any standards,” said David Dengate, spokesperson for Facebook. “To see over 8 million Facebook statuses posted and then so quickly deleted initially baffled everyone here,” elaborated Dengate. He went on to say that “when we looked at the analytics, we saw that it was Mormons who were posting a status, often followed by a number of comments, only to then delete that status.”
Facebook’s extensive analytical tools allowed them to group those statuses by content. What emerged from this examination was that the lion’s share were about Friday’s Supreme Court ruling, with others centered around whether or not Mormons could support that ruling, with other deleted statuses about the confederate flag controversy.
What Facebook researchers found was that some deleted statuses supported while others opposed the Supreme Court’s decision. A typical status of support read something like this: “Love God First and don’t fear men by allowing worldly standards to destroy the family as outlined in the Proclamation. And delete friends with that wicked rainbow picture.” A standard support status went something like this: “Love God First and don’t fear men, even if those men are respected, wise church leaders. You can believe that they are prophets AND that God is pleased with gay marriage, just like you could believe in 1977 that all worthy men should hold the priesthood. If you don’t have a rainbow profile picture, then you would have opposed Blacks getting the priesthood in the 70s.”
Researchers also found that a typical inflammatory status that might quickly get deleted could be “Set your clocks for 14 years; by then the church will accept gay marriage” or “Set your clocks for 14 months; by then we will see the calamities warned about in the Proclamation.”
One status that was very common on the east coast was this one: “All of us Mormons here in North Carolina would like to invite the Supreme Court justices who forced gay marriage on us to come down to our state and take a nice long swim at one of our beaches.”
When asked to elaborate on so many Facebook statuses created and deleted, one researcher wondered if Mormons had really grasped how to have a respectful, public debate about controversial issues without being offensive or being offended, or how to do it in such a way that Mormons could have genuine difference and diversity while being of one heart and one mind.