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Facebook will let you set a 7-second looping video as profile pic

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Facebook will let you set a 7-second looping video as profile pic

Profiles, the original beating heart of Facebook, were pushed to the side in 2006 by the more addictive News Feed. But profiles remain a tremendously popular part of the social network, so Facebook has been cautious about modifying the way they look and feel. But today profiles are getting a significant redesign — and the result is a page that’s less about what you want to share, and more about what your friends want to see.

The biggest departure from the current product, which is now in testing: looping “profile videos” of up to seven seconds that add a new dimension to the design. It’s a big thing that sounds like a small thing, and it’s big because for the first time, Facebook is asking users to get creative with their profiles. Video profiles aren’t required — you can stick with a static image — but we expect that they’ll become enormously popular, assuming they become available to everyone. (The videos are now being tested among small groups in the United States and the United Kingdom.)

Facebook will also now let you set a temporary profile photo that automatically reverts back to the old one after a specified length of time. Maybe you want to show yourself wearing your favorite sports team’s shirt on the day of a big game. Maybe you want to modify your profile to show support for a cause in the news, as when people applied a rainbow filter to their profile pictures to show support for same-sex marriage.03-Featured-Photos_CY_Final.0

The more philosophical changes to the profile come below the photo. The new profile asks you to write a short bio of yourself (“Mom, wife, growth hacker. Coffee addict!”), and supports the use of emoji. Next comes the “About” field, which tells people where you live, work, go to school, and so on. And then come photos: instead of the previous small square link, they’re now a full-bleed section unto themselves, where they may now be more easily perused by thirsty randos. (Assuming the photos are public, of course — the box respects your privacy settings.)

Facebook gives you control over which photos display here: you can choose to “feature” a handful of them. Beneath your featured photos, there’s another photos section, featuring your most recent pictures. And then, underneath that, there’s a full-bleed section showing your friends. Only after that do posts on your Timeline begin showing up.

We asked two Facebook product managers about these major design changes . “We’re just trying to balance out the information that might be more important to people when they’re visiting profiles,” one of them told us. The new options for self-expression in the profile are a lot of fun — maybe the most fun Facebook has ever let you have with your profile. They make the profile feel to me like it always has — like a broadcast message to your friends. But scroll down a bit and it’s a different story: Your profile is now a tool built for enjoyment by the curious.

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