Update December 19th, 5:46PM ET: The changes detailed in this article are related to the launch of Twitter Blue for Business, which the company revealed Monday evening. You can read our story about that here. Our original story follows.
Twitter is adding to its increasingly complex ways of differentiating accounts with new square profile pictures with rounded corners for brands. The new type of profile pic started rolling out on the platform on Monday, and you might already be able to see them on brand profiles and in your feed.
Here’s what The Verge’s new square profile pic looks like, for example:
And here it is in the feed:
It appears that these square profile pictures are being applied to accounts with gold verification badges, which already denote official business accounts. The Verge’s official deals and transportation-focused accounts, for example, have blue badges and still have round profile pictures.
The change could have unexpected consequences for brands that designed their profile picture specifically for a circular shape. Like, as spotted by app researcher Jane Manchun Wong, Twitter’s own #OneTeam account for employees:
I should also note that the square profile pictures are actually the third possible option. Most accounts have the standard circle, brands now have squares, and Twitter Blue subscribers with NFT profile pictures can have hexagons.
But square profile pictures aren’t the only new identification tool Twitter is rolling out. It’s also introducing a new smaller box that sits next to a checkmark on a profile and seems to show one account’s connection to another. (We’re approaching Tumblr-level ridiculousness here.) You might be able to see examples on three accounts: @TwitterSupport, as shown in the screenshot at the top of this post, the official Twitter Verified account, and @TwitterBlue all have a small profile picture of the @Twitter account next to their badges.
Hovering over the miniaturized profile picture currently doesn’t show any sort of indicator of what it is, unlike verification badges, which do. But if you click on the gold badge on one of those three accounts, you’ll see a message telling you it is “an affiliate of @Twitter on Twitter;” typically, clicking a gold badge tells you the account is a business. In the case of the Support, Verified, and Blue accounts, if you click on the mini @Twitter profile pic, it takes you directly to Twitter’s account.
After we first published this story, we noticed that VC David Sacks, a friend of Twitter CEO Elon Musk, also has a new second badge, though his points to the profile to his venture capital firm, Craft Ventures. Confusingly, clicking his verification badge currently doesn’t spell out an affiliation and instead shows a message about verification that you might be familiar with from the pre-Musk era. Nowadays, clicking most legacy (aka non-paid) blue badges shows a message that an account “may or may not be notable.”
It’s been a chaotic several days for Twitter, with the company suspending and unsuspending several journalists who tweeted about the (still suspended) @ElonJet account, banning and unbanning links to competitors, and users voting in favor of CEO Elon Musk stepping down as Chief Twit. It’s unclear why Twitter is rolling out the changed profile pics and new badges; as I write this, the company’s support page about its labels doesn’t include any information about the updates or how brands might use the new miniature profile badges for themselves. Twitter, which has dissolved its press office, didn’t immediately reply to a request for comment.
Update December 19th, 4:35PM ET: Added details about different messages you see when you click verification badges with the new indicator.