Anti-vaxxers just killed Facebook profile frames

Did you enjoy beautifying your Facebook photos with profile frames? These graphics and slogans that you could embed on your circular Facebook profile picture were a great way to personalize your page for a holiday or show your support for your favorite sports team. Users can even get creative and create their own custom frame images.

Well, you can’t do that anymore. Facebook is removing profile frames as we know them, essentially killing the functionality. And the anti-vaxxers are to blame.

In a post Friday, Facebook announcement new feature changes, officially discontinuing the ability for users to create custom profile frames. While profile frames still exist, only frames from “certain government departments or organizations and those providing authoritative information about COVID-19” will be available to users.

“On March 21, only profile frames from certain government departments or organizations and those providing authoritative information about COVID-19 will be available,” the Facebook post read. “This change reflects our ongoing focus on helping people voice their support on important issues like voting and trusted health information.”

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

Scrolling through the extremely short list of frames available in the Facebook Frame Gallery, users can immediately see the difference. The popular “I got my COVID-19 vaccine” frame from the US Department of Health and Human Services is still available to users, as are frames created by UNICEF. There are a few generic graphic frameworks created by Facebook itself that users can use. But that’s all. There are no other frames currently available.

As Facebook rift down on anti-vaccination contents more than the past a few years, anti-vaxxers have had to get more and more creative to spread their misinformation on the social networking platform without getting banned. Anti-vaxxers quickly weaponized the profile frame function by creating frames like “I trust my immune system, not a vaccine” and “Fuck the vaccine.” Once a frame has been created, it can be shared with any Facebook user who can then embed the frame on their own profile picture.

These anti-vaccine sentiments spread quickly through social media platform through Facebook profile frames. anti-vaccine profile frames could be found anywhere on the network. When CNBC contacted Facebook in May 2021, the company removed a number of these frameworks because they violated Facebook’s existing vaccine misinformation policies. However, other similar frames have continued to proliferate on the social network.

In the months since CNBC’s report, Facebook began removing all gallery profile frames that weren’t created by official partners, according to SocialMediaToday. Eventually, users started reporting that the frame creator was also disabled, although Messaging on the creator’s page stated that this was only a temporary change.

With today’s announcement, Facebook has made it clear: custom profile frames are not coming back.

Facebook says all existing custom profile frames will be removed from the platform on March 21. Users can download the frames they have created from the Studio Frame at any time before that date.

Any consolation for those who really like their current Facebook profile picture with a frame? Facebook says users can continue to use them. The company will not delete photos already created with a frame.