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With addition of profile photos, LinkedIn is faceless no more

The social networking site now allows its members to upload 'professional photographs,' which it had previously nixed in favor of emphasizing its strictly-business aims.

Some social media junkies might find this one akin to the Web 2.0 equivalent of a flying pig, whereas others see it as a logical move for LinkedIn in a social media market that's increasingly competitive. The business networking site just announced that it now allows its members to upload a photograph to accompany their profiles.

To the outsider, it sounds trivial. But the lack of photos was one way that the strictly-business LinkedIn differentiated itself from more casual social networking brethren like Facebook and MySpace, which permit their users to create extensive picture galleries. With the lack of visuals, LinkedIn had crafted itself as a digital web of resumes.

Look, it's a photo! A view of the new LinkedIn. LinkedIn

Until now. LinkedIn members "have the option of adding a professional photo," according to a release from the site. That doesn't mean they have to have a site representative come and take it for them; it's just a gentle guideline that the photos in question shouldn't be full-body shots from the office tiki bar party.

To that end, LinkedIn has installed an in-browser cropping tool so that members can turn larger photos into appropriate headshots. They'll also be able to set their privacy controls so that their photos are only visible to direct or second-degree connections on the site, and if they deem it appropriate--if they're job recruiters, for example--members can opt not to see any LinkedIn profile pictures.

According to a conversation with Adam Nash, LinkedIn's senior director of product, there were multiple reasons for the site's decision to allow its members to upload photos, including popular demand. Not only does the presence of photographs make it easier for people to connect offline after making a LinkedIn business liaison (ever had to Google Image Search someone before you met them for a meeting in a Starbucks?) but it's customary in many countries for a resume to come with a photo--and Nash stressed that seven of LinkedIn's 14 million members are outside the U.S.

This is unlikely to be a controversial move, but it's a fairly large step for LinkedIn--if only because it'll add some color to its formerly text-on-white-background interface.