Could X be looking to bring back GIF profile images in the app?
Twitter, now X, did once offer this as an option (kind of), and some users do still have moving profile images as a result. But the capacity to actually upload a GIF as your X avatar has been unavailable, in any form, for more than a decade.
But that could be about to change.
According to a new post from X engineer Andrea Conway, the X team is at least discussing the option of bringing back animated profile images.
gif profile pics (they’d be optional obvs)— Andrea Conway (@ehikian) November 1, 2023
It’s only a poll for now, but Conway has shared various insights on coming X features over the last year, and all of them have ended up being rolled out at some stage. So it does seem likely that this is on the product team’s radar, though some users are pretty opposed to the option.
To clarify, X/Twitter has never officially enabled users to upload GIFs for their profile image, but there was, at one stage, a workaround that enabled users to upload a GIF within certain dimensions that would then work as an animated avatar in-stream.
Former Twitter chief Dick Costolo apparently oversaw the closure of this loophole back in 2012, making it impossible to upload GIFs, but users that had already done so were able to keep them. Which is why, every now and then, you come across an animated profile image, even though you can’t actually upload one yourself.
Some users claim that it’s too distracting, while it may also pose problems for screen readers and other accessibility tools. But there could be a variation of this where users can add an animation to their profile image, when a visitor hovers over the picture maybe, or taps through to their profile specifically.
I mean, Elon is keen to take on LinkedIn in the job stakes, so maybe?
It seems like a minor consideration, but it could have an impact, and it could be coming sometime soon.
Also worth noting, app researcher Jane Manchun Wong noted that X was working on re-adding GIFs as a profile image option in December last year. So it has been at least under consideration for some time.