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Facebook tests temporary profile pictures for supporting causes

Changing your profile photo is a puzzlingly big decision, but Facebook is trying to make it easier to quickly change them up every so often. According to TechCrunch, Facebook is testing a new feature that allows people to temporarily set a new profile photo, which will then go away after a set number of hours, days, or weeks. Facebook tells TechCrunch that it's making the feature in response to the way that people often "use their profile pictures to support a cause, root for a team, and commemorate milestones like birthdays and anniversaries." The idea is that by setting a temporary picture, you can express how you're feeling at the moment and then have it revert back to normal when appropriate. Facebook reportedly wants to roll the feature out widely in the coming months.

In the case of supporting sports teams or celebrating birthdays, this feature makes a lot of sense. It even seems like a fun way to show a bit more personality on a site that places so much value on the long term. But it's also easy to look at this cynically, since the most visible profile changes to spread across Facebook are done in support of causes, like to celebrate the Supreme Court's marriage ruling in June. If people were to put up rainbow-coated pictures using this temporary photo feature, there'd certainly be a lot less of them still around today. On the other hand, this feature may well make it easier for people to show support for different causes that they might otherwise let pass them by. At a time when you might show support for a cause with a single tweet, there may actually be something meaningful about changing your profile picture for a few days, even if you set it up to disappear.

facebook temporary profile pictures

Update Sunday September 13th, 10:47PM ET: Facebook has provided us with an official image of how temporary profile pictures will first appear to a user. It is included above.