One of the biggest changes in years to come to your Facebook profile was inspired by everyone’s favourite wizard.
On Wednesday, Facebook introduced a big redesign of its profile page. The new profiles put a bigger emphasis on photos and give users the ability to create a short bio.
But the most exciting new feature is that people will soon be able to replace their profile pictures with seven-second looping videos — essentially, they will be able to use animated GIFs as profile photos.
Facebook engineers felt compelled to roll out the new feature when it made them think of the the magical world of Harry Potter.
“Profile videos actually came about when one of our engineers hacked his own internal Facebook profile to turn his profile picture into a video,” Aigerim Shorman, a Facebook product manager, told Tech Insider.
“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,” she said. “You can get an even better sense of someone’s personality when their profile is dynamic like that.”
If you’re unfamiliar with the Harry Potter franchise, Shorman’s reference is to the fictional Daily Prophet newspaper in the Harry Potter books, which has illustrations that come to life and move when read.
There are also the enchanted, moving paintings of characters like Albus Dumbledore and The Fat Lady that hang throughout the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
Throughout the series, Harry Potter talks with the paintings like you would a normal human being. While not quite as magical, Facebook hopes that the video effect on its new profile layout encourages a similar sense of engagement.
If you’re not seeing Facebook’s new profile design, that’s probably because you don’t have access yet. The company is rolling out the changes in California and the U.K. before expanding elsewhere. The ability to upload profile videos only exists for iPhone users initially, so Android owners will have to wait or figure out a spell to make it work.
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