Facebook is adding some fun to its domain: As of Oct. 1, users of the social network can upload a looping video clip in place of a profile photo on its mobile app.
Facebook made it clear that members will only be able to upload new profile movies in video format, not in GIF or Vine format. The new feature is being made available first to iPhone users in California and the U.K., but the Menlo Park, Calif.-based company said it plans to release it widely soon.
Video format is similar to GIFs and Vines. GIFs (Graphics Interchange Format) are among the most enduring digital image formats, introduced by CompuServe in 1987. They have come into widespread usage on the Web — generally as videos a few seconds long — due to their wide support and portability. GIFs also can be static images.
Vines are 6-second-long videos first released by the company of the same name, which Twitter acquired in October 2012.
Facebook also enables users to set a temporary profile video that will expire at a selected date and revert to their previous one. Once recorded and uploaded, the new profile videos will move only if someone visits a specific profile. They won’t move in newsfeeds — at least at this early stage.
“Profile videos will let you show a part of yourself you couldn’t before, and add a new dimension to your profile,” a Facebook staffer wrote in a blog post.
While this may not seem like a world-shaking move into the IT future, if all 1.4 billion of Facebook’s registered users decided to utilize that bandwidth and GIFs or Vines in place of a static photo or other image, Facebook might have to build an entire new data center just to handle the movement.
Of course, the chance that all Facebook users would upload a video for profile purposes is not likely.
The social network isn’t the first to use short videos or GIFs for users’ profile images. These were prevalent in MySpace in the early 2000s. In July, Snapchat introduced GIF videos for its Snapcodes, which are QR block codes that can be scanned to add someone as a friend on the app and also to serve as a profile image.
Phhhoto, a new photo-sharing mobile app entirely based on the GIFs, also uses video for users’ profiles.
Facebook’s profile update on Sept. 30 also included the addition of a newly designed Bio section at the top of the mobile app page that can be customized with additional personal details. Users also now have the ability to edit the information that appears at the top of the profile (hometown, work, featured photos).