In an announcement Wednesday, Facebook wrote, “The world has changed since we first introduced profiles in 2004.” It might seem like a grandiose way to debut some mobile profile tweaks, but come on, people, this is about “an obvious evolution of profiles.” Duh.
Where before there were only still profile pictures—showing off a person’s wedding or chance encounter with Ashton Kutcher—you’ll now be able to make what Facebook is calling “profile videos.” They’re basically GIF-like seven-second snippets of footage on loop. The company is currently testing them on a group of iPhone users in California and the United Kingdom, and then they’ll expand out to more people. (Note the timing: Apple just released its new Live Photos feature in iOS 9.)
The update was apparently inspired directly by Harry Potter. Facebook product manager Aigerim Shorman told Tech Insider that, “Profile videos actually came about when one of our engineers hacked his own internal Facebook profile to turn his profile picture into a video. … Once our team saw his profile come to life like that, it reminded us of Harry Potter and we knew it was something that we had to build for everyone.”
Another profile picture improvement offers a different type of insight into what’s going on with Facebook employees. It seems that they feel the same social pressures that the rest of us do, because in response to the Celebrate Pride filter from this summer, a new feature lets you set a profile picture temporarily. You choose an expiration date for when you want to switch back to your old photo, and then Facebook automates the change. That way you can make an advanced decision and don’t have to debate about when and how to take down an advocacy prof pic. (Facebook points out that you can also use this feature for more benign things like supporting a sports team in the lead-up to a big game.)
More options are fun, but we all know that people will just use these features to make their lives look even more glamorous and epic. Skydiving profile videos are going to be everywhere. Eat your heart out, Daily Prophet.