It’s only been a few months, but Twitter’s Elon Musk era has already been filled with so many updates and changes, like giving out gold checkmarks to business accounts and the seemingly never-ending saga that is Twitter Blue. As the latest update in the long line of head-scratchers, Twitter began rolling out square profile pictures to select accounts on Dec. 19. It’ll only affect a small number of accounts, but you probably won’t be able to avoid seeing it on your timeline and want to WTF they mean. Here’s the deal with Twitter’s new square profile picture shape and the new subscription tier — yes, another one — that comes with it.
If you’ve been seeing accounts with square profile pictures all over your Twitter lately, your app isn’t glitching. Twitter began changing its standard round profile pictures to squares on Dec. 19 for official brand accounts as another way to differentiate the imitation accounts from the real ones. You might remember the roll out of Twitter Blue was put on pause just two days after launching in November 2022 due to an influx of accounts trolling as public figures, which was the reason behind the gold checkmarks for businesses.
The first time you see the square profile is a little jarring, because it’s usually among a sea of circular profile picture. Surprisingly, it’s not the first time Twitter has implemented square profile pictures. Before 2017, all accounts verified or unverified, business or personal, had square prof pics, according to Vectornator. Given that it’s been five years with the more recognizable circular shape, the square profile pictures on accounts like Lay’s and Pepsi definitely stand out when you first see them. (Note, the square profile pictures don’t seem to translate when tweets are embedded in articles, like the below, but you’ll see them on the app and desktop website.)
The change may seem odd, especially since the company recently started rolling out gold-colored checkmarks to business accounts in mid-December 2022, but the new profile picture shape comes as one of the features for Twitter’s latest subscription endeavor, Blue For Business.
Twitter announced the launch of Blue For Business on Dec. 19 in a tweet that describes the subscription option as “a new program that lets businesses distinguish their brands and key employees on Twitter.” Ushering in the new shape, the tweet also shared, “These accounts will show a square company badge next to their display names.”
According to a Blue For Business blog post on the Twitter website, companies enrolled in Blue For Business will not only get a square profile picture, but will also be able to link any number of their affiliated employees, businesses, and brands to their account. Once an account has been linked, that account will get a small badge of their “parent company's profile picture next to their blue or gold checkmark,” according to the blog post. And keeping with the shape, the tiny icon will be a square.
In a second tweet in the thread, the company also shared that it is currently “piloting Twitter Blue for Business with a limited number of businesses but plan to expand the program next year.” In a footnote at the bottom of the blog post page, Twitter clarifies that “not all features available on all platforms,” and that “Twitter Blue for Business features may change periodically as [Twitter keeps] improving the service.” Whether those periodic changes mean square profile pictures will become stars or octagons, or go back to circles is yet to be seen.
For now, square profile pictures are a thing (for businesses, anyway), and you’ll likely see them accompanied by the gold checkmark. It’s not clear if Twitter Blue for Business will cost more or less than Twitter Blue, which as of Dec. 22, is $11 on the iOS app and $8 on desktop, but it’s safe to say the square profile pictures likely won’t be the last change you see as you scroll.