Tech
Facebook

Anti-vaxxers just killed Facebook profile frames

Custom Facebook profile frames are no more.
By Matt Binder  on 
Facebook
Facebook is restricting use of its profile frame feature due to anti-vaccine misinformation. Credit: NurPhoto via Getty

Did you enjoy glamming up your Facebook photos with profile frames? Those graphics and slogans you could embed over your circular Facebook profile image were a great way to customize your page for a holiday or show support for your favorite sports team. Users could even get creative and create their very own custom frame images.

Well, you won't be able to do that anymore. Facebook is removing profile frames as we know it, essentially killing the feature. And anti-vaxxers are to blame.

In a post on Friday, Facebook announced new changes to the feature, officially shutting down the ability for users to create customized profile frames. While profile frames will still exist, only frames from "certain government services or organizations and those providing authoritative information on COVID-19" will be available to users.

"On March 21, only profile frames from certain government services or organizations and those providing authoritative information on COVID-19 will be available," reads the Facebook post. "This change reflects our continued emphasis on helping people express their support around important issues like voting and reliable health information."

Facebook profile frames
A sample of the few Facebook profile frames still available to users. Credit: Facebook

Scrolling through the extremely short list of available frames in the Facebook Frames Gallery, users can right away see the difference. The popular "I got my COVID-19 vaccine" frame from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is still available for users, as are frames created by UNICEF. There are a few generic graphic frames created by Facebook itself that users can use. But, that's it. There are no other frames currently available.

As Facebook cracked down on anti-vaccination content over the past few years, anti-vaxxers had to get more and more creative in spreading their misinformation on the social networking platform without getting banned. Anti-vaxxers quickly weaponized the profile frame feature by creating frames such as "I trust my immune system, not a shot" and "Fuck the vaccine." Once a frame was created, they could be shared with any Facebook user who could then embed the frame on their own profile photo.

These anti-vaccine sentiments quickly spread through the social media platform via Facebook profile frames. Anti-vaccine profile frames could be found all over the network. When CNBC reached out to Facebook in May 2021, the company removed a number of these frames as they were violating Facebook's existing vaccine misinformation policies. However, other similar frames continued to proliferate across the social network.

Over the months that followed CNBC's report, Facebook began removing all profile frames from the gallery that weren't created by official partners, according to SocialMediaToday. Eventually, users began reporting that the frame creator was disabled too, although messaging on the creator page pointed to it being just a temporary change.

With today's announcement, Facebook has made it clear: Custom profile frames aren't coming back.

Facebook says any existing custom profile frames will be deleted from the platform on March 21. Users can download frames that they created from the Frame Studio anytime before that date. 

One consolation to those who really like their current Facebook profile pic with a frame? Facebook says users can keep using them. The company will not be removing photos that were already created with a frame.

More in Facebook, COVID-19


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