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Tech throws its weight behind US marriage ruling ... with rainbows, emojis and software

Tech throws its weight behind US marriage ruling ... with rainbows, emojis and software

Companies voiced support for the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Twitter, with product features to boot

Twitter's logo on a rainbow background, pictured June 26, 2015, after the U.S. Supreme Court's same-sex marriage ruling.

Twitter's logo on a rainbow background, pictured June 26, 2015, after the U.S. Supreme Court's same-sex marriage ruling.

When the Supreme Court issued its historic ruling on Friday legalizing same-sex marriage across the U.S., many of the biggest technology companies embraced the decision with characteristic flair through social media, on their sites, and with tools that others could use to show their support as well.

Companies like Google, Microsoft, Motorola Mobility, Uber and Airbnb, their chief executives, and their venture capitalist funders all took to Twitter to post celebratory tweets about the ruling, often accompanied by the hashtags #LoveWins or #Pride, plus GIFs. Companies also changed the colors of their profile pictures on Twitter to those of a rainbow, conjuring the symbol of lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender pride.

Twitter, which called Friday "a monumental day for equal rights," unleashed two new rainbow emojis, of a flag and a heart, that users could post by tweeting the aforementioned hashtags.

Google, in a tweet, said it was proud to celebrate marriage equality. The company included a GIF of a green Android robot waving a rainbow flag.

Given the likely impact of the Supreme Court's ruling, and rising support among the public, same-sex marriage has become a safer issue for technology companies to support. Liberal social values in the parts of California where many tech companies are based made their reactions not much of a surprise.

And yet the ruling comes at a time of heightened sensitivity around issues of diversity in the tech industry. Whether it's leveraged this way or not, the Supreme Court ruling offers a convenient opportunity for companies to cast their brands in the light of openness and acceptance.

Some executives expressed wholehearted support for the ruling. Tim Cook, the openly gay CEO of Apple, said the day marked "a victory for equality, perseverance and love."

Mark Zuckerberg, CEO at Facebook, said the ruling represented another step toward achieving the founding promise of the U.S. that all people are created equal.

Josh Elman, a venture capitalist at Greylock Partners in Silicon Valley, offered this observation: "Rainbow flags going up. Confederate flags coming down. Feeling the arc of progress and humanity in how we respect each other," referring to growing opposition to the flag associated with racism in the South.

Meanwhile, some technology companies offered tools or features meant to celebrate marriage equality. Facebook released a filter that people could use to overlay a rainbow on their profile picture. The tool appears to have been developed for Pride events around the country this weekend; the Supreme Court ruling hastened its arrival. It can be accessed at www.facebook.com/celebratepride.

Google, for its part, added a banner to the top of its search results page showing people holding hands and a rainbow heart. The banner only appeared for certain searches like "marriage equality" or "gay marriage." The banner did not appear for a search for just "marriage."

Snapchat got in on the action, too. The photo-sharing app created a themed Live Story around the ruling, called "Marriage Equality," which let users post photos and videos to a feed that everyone else could see. Part of the feed contained a video showing people celebrating outside the Supreme Court.

Interest in the ruling, at least initially, appeared to be higher in the U.S. than in other countries. Google searches around gay marriage were concentrated primarily in the U.S. and Canada, according to a Google Trends report.

But the Snapchat feed was made available to users globally, as was the Facebook rainbow filter.

Zach Miners covers social networking, search and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow Zach on Twitter at @zachminers. Zach's e-mail address is zach_miners@idg.com

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