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What Does A Viral Phenomenon Look Like?

Watch how long it took for the ALS Ice Bucket Challege to go global

Viral videos achieve an inexplicable kind of fame, and they are damn near impossible to predict. For example, remember Tay Zonday, the guy with the preternaturally deep voice who posted a video of himself singing his original song “Chocolate Rain”? It stormed the Web in 2007 and has since been watched more than 100 million times. Or how about the sneezing baby panda that’s generated north of 220 million views since 2006?


There’s David After Dentist, Charlie Bit My Finger, Keyboard Cat. And who among us hasn’t been Rickrolled? Just a few weeks ago we watched a young girl, all hopped up on painkillers after dental surgery, get punked by her brothers into thinking they had to flee the zombie apocalypse. And earlier this week we met Chewbacca Mom. She put on a character mask she bought at Kohl’s, laughed hysterically in her car—alone—for more than two minutes, and shortly after she was on The Late Late Show with James Cordon talking about how it feels to have a silly video you filmed in a parking lot watched more than 140 million times.

But what does that kind of hyperspeed rise to popularity actually look like on a global scale? What does it look like when a viral video becomes a video pandemic? In the video above you can watch the spread of the world-consuming ALS Ice Bucket Challenge that was used to raise awareness and funds for those living with Lou Gehrig’s Disease.

The “Cold Water Challenge” had been kicking around since 2013, but it entered the American consciousness in a big way when Matt Lauer fulfilled the Challenge on an episode of The Today Show in July of 2014. Then for the rest of the summer everyone’s Instagram and Facebook feeds were dominated by celebrities and common-folk alike either dousing themselves in freezing cold water or donating money to ALS research. The amount of money and number of views generated is a truly stunning example of what it looks like when philanthropy achieves viral success.

The above visualization uses data from Google Trends to show the global spread of the Ice Bucket Challenge over a 30 day period (August 6th - September 7th).

Music: Mono/Poly - "Queen of Cups" - http://monopolytracks.com
Produced & Directed by Gabriel Reilich
Data: Max Einstein - http://DataLooksDope.com
Visuals: Strangeloop - http://strangelooptv.com/
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The 30 countries with the the most search traffic related to the term "Ice Bucket Challenge" are shown. Of course, many other countries participated in this viral phenomenon, but the 30 portrayed in this video made for the bulk of Google queries during this specific time period.

The bottom numbers and charts track the daily volume of three primary hashtags associated with the challenge, as well as the top tweet associated with that hashtag for any particular day. On August 15th, #alsicebucketchallenge overtakes #icebucketchallenge. This information was gathered using analytics from http://topsy.com.

Total donation figure provided by http://ALSA.org
Total Video Shares & Views from http://newsroom.fb.com

Infographics
via Chela Horsdal / Twitter

Amazon's "The Man in the High Castle" debuted the first episode of its final season last week.

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via Mike Mozart / Flickr

Chick-fil-A is the third-largest fast food chain in America, behind McDonald's and Starbucks, raking in over $10 billion a year.

But for years, the company has faced boycotts for supporting anti-LGBT charities, including the Salvation Army, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and the Paul Anderson Youth Home.

The Salvation Army faced criticism after a leader in the organization implied that gay people "deserve to die" and the company also came under fire after refusing to offer same-sex couples health insurance. But the organization swears it's evolving on such issues.

via Thomas Hawk / Flickr

The Fellowship of Christian Athletes explicitly announced it was anti gay marriage in a recent "Statement of Faith."

God instituted marriage between one man and one woman as the foundation of the family and the basic structure of human society. For this reason, we believe that marriage is exclusively the union of one man and one woman.

The Paul Anderson Youth Home teaches boys that homosexuality is wrong and that same-sex marriage is "rage against Jesus Christ and His values."

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In 2012, Chick-fil-A's CEO, Dan Cathy, made anti same-sex marriage comments on a radio broadcast:

I think we are inviting God's judgment on our nation when we shake our fist at Him and say, "We know better than you as to what constitutes a marriage". I pray God's mercy on our generation that has such a prideful, arrogant attitude to think that we have the audacity to define what marriage is about.

But the chicken giant has now decided to change it's says its charitable donation strategy because it's bad for business...Not because being homophobic is wrong.

The company recently lost several bids to provide concessions in U.S. airports. A pop-up shop in England was told it would not be renewed after eight days following LGBTQ protests.

Chick-fil-A also has plans to expand to Boston, Massachusetts where its mayor, Thomas Menino, pledged to ban the restaurant from the city.

via Wikimedia Commons

"There's no question we know that, as we go into new markets, we need to be clear about who we are," Chick-fil-A President and Chief Operating Officer Tim Tassopoulos told Bisnow. "There are lots of articles and newscasts about Chick-fil-A, and we thought we needed to be clear about our message."

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Instead, the Chick-fil-A Foundation plans to give $9 million to organizations that support education and fight homelessness. Which is commendable regardless of the company's troubled past.

"If Chick-Fil-A is serious about their pledge to stop holding hands with divisive anti-LGBTQ activists, then further transparency is needed regarding their deep ties to organizations like Focus on the Family, which exist purely to harm LGBTQ people and families," Drew Anderson, GLAAD's director of campaigns and rapid response, said in a statement.

Chick-fil-A's decision to back down from contributing to anti-LGBT charities shows the power that people have to fight back against companies by hitting them where it really hurts — the pocket book.

The question remains: If you previously avoided Chick-fil-A because it supported anti-LGBT organizations, is it now OK to eat there? Especially when Popeye's chicken sandwich is so good people will kill for it?

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via Gage Skidmore / Flickr and nrkbeta / flickr

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