UPDATE (26/04/12): Facebook has recently confirmed the information in this post – “all Facebook Page profile pictures would be updated to the 160px size on the 26th April 2012.”
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It appears Facebook quietly began rolling out changes to the size of Profile Pictures across both personal and brand Timelines. Previously the images were displayed at 125px, but these have now been bumped up to 160px. We can see two issues people (and particularly online brand managers) should be aware of:
1. Brands and people who have developed creative cover photos aligned with their profile picture need to readjust their photos.
Here is an example, from Ford Motor Company (US). As you can see, with the larger profile picture the flag poles are no longer aligned.
It is also important for brands who have text on their cover photos check the new profile picture size does not cover any of the text – as shown on this image from one of our clients’ Facebook page, Refinery Magazine.
As you can see, the start of the sentence (Welcome) is covered by the larger profile picture.
2. Brands who have created an optimised profile picture (usually logos) for the 125px width, now need to reupload the image to ensure no visual artifacts or pixelation from the stretch and scaling occurs. For example, the logo on the Pixelwork Facebook was uploaded at 250px, to ensure smooth scaling to 125px (50%). Using the same image may not scale as easily and therefore it is recommended you reupload your image at an easy multiple of 180 (while it is displayed on the Timeline at 160px, it appears the images are saved at 180px) – for example, 360px. This also divides cleanly into 160px (2.25). In any case, you should upload a larger version of the image, and allow Facebook to scale it to it’s needs.
Images will look particularly bad and low quality if they were originally uploaded at a smaller size (for example, at the original size of 125px).
Here is another example of a broken cover photo after the resize, alongside the old profile picture aligned properly.
It appears the roll out is linked to your account, as certain users are reporting not being able to see the updated changes as yet. No doubt this will be rectified as all 900 million+ user accounts are processed (my guess is due to the large number of profiles, and it appears to not be a simple CSS/code change but rather they may be resizing the profile images site-wide to 180px).