Facebook Tests Using Profile Picture Thumbnails in More Feeds Stories

Users are seeing more faces than ever in their feeds as Facebook complements more stories with multiple profile picture thumbnails. Friendship confirmation stories now display thumbnails of your friend’s new friends, and rows of thumbnails (we’ve seen as many as 17 at once) accompany profile pic change feed items. While currently contained to rather benign stories, the potential inclusion of the thumbnails in other stories raises the question: has Facebook developed a new form of peer pressure?

Long considered an element of good web design, thumbnails are more vivid than text. But unlike symbolizing a blog post or navigation button with an illustration, profile pic thumbnails allow websites to align content with identities. Profile picture thumbnails don’t just represent, they endorse. Including more of them in the news feed could help inspire group behavior, leading users to perform an action because it seems like everyone else is. Adding rows of convincing faces to other stories could be a compelling way to motivate users toward more serious actions like RSVPing for events or Liking Pages.