Most of us now have more than one online social media platform that we frequent, be it Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or a plethora of other choices. Different as they may be, all these websites/apps have one thing in common: they all have a place for you to put your best face forward in the form of a profile picture. The internet is awash with stories and anecdotes of people trying to take and choose that perfect picture that forms the first impression on any visitor to their social media pages. But research published Friday shows we may not be the best judge of our own profile pictures, after all. In fact, the study on behavioral science said letting complete strangers decide our profile pictures could actually yield the best results.
Choosing a new display picture is a tedious process but it dictates how people perceive you in the online world. Now a team at the University of New South Wales, Sydney, has discovered that images chosen by a stranger will likely produce more favourable reactions than one you choose yourself. Dr David White, lead author of the study which was published on April 14, said: 'Our findings suggest that people make poor choices when selecting flattering images of themselves for online profile pictures, which affects other people's perception of them. 'This effect is likely to have a substantial impact on online interactions, the impressions people form and the decisions they base on them, including whether to employ, date, befriend or even vote for someone.' So it makes perfect sense asking a stranger to choose your display picture; because they'll likely know how you best portray yourself.
When it comes to your profile picture, a total stranger knows what's best for you, according to new research. Images selected by strangers convey a much more favourable first impression than images people select for themselves, according to the study. The findings contradict evidence which suggests that we portray ourselves in a good light in our profile pictures - instead it seems we're doing it all wrong. This participant selected the top, second from left photo for her professional profile picture but strangers thought she looked better in the bottom, second from left one. Researchers took 102 students and asked them to select two out of 12 photos of their face that they were most likely to use as profile pictures in three contexts - on social networks, dating sites and professional networks.
In Harry Potter's universe, people in portraits and pictures don't just sit there. They smile, gasp, wink, or get up to mischief. Facebook has been hard at work making this a reality for your profile pic as well. Their new tool only requires a single image of a face as input. From this, it is then able to create an animated version that puts on either a happy, sad, or angry expression.
Regular Twitter users are likely to have experienced the anticipatory glow of a notification, signalling the start of an illuminating conversation in which conflicting points of view are debated calmly and politely, or maybe the birth of a new friendship, or a clever bon mot that makes you chuckle quietly to yourself for the rest of the day. Or perhaps an apoplectic egg is screaming at you. "CLEARLY you don't AGREE with DEMOCRACY!!1!" it says, then says it again, in a slightly different way, for the next 12 hours. But the Twitter egg has finally cracked. Over the past few years, the default profile picture – which was introduced in 2010 as a way to illustrate that a new user was about to "hatch" – has become visual shorthand for trolls, bots and fury.