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There are various profile images available from APIs (such as Facebook, Gravatar, LinkedIn, etc). In some cases (many CRM systems for example), you can pull all of these images into your site via APIs.

Question:

What is the most authoritative personal image of someone and for what circumstances is it authoritative?

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    This seems like a very subjective question. What is the purpose of your app? Is it social, work-related, possibly something people want to use anonymously? Those factors would influence which picture people want to use. – elemjay19 Nov 13 '14 at 0:05
  • Thanks, you're right. I've reworded quite a bit now. The answers are quite good. – Besto Nov 13 '14 at 18:36
  • Nice Edit! I voted to reopen question! – Benny Skogberg Nov 13 '14 at 19:16
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As @norabora points out, the purpose of your app will probably dictate which you will want to use.

Facebook - Likely to be the one that most people will be signed up with, however the profile pictures that people use on the network are often, of them in social situations, with friends or similar. Since the network is about simply connecting people with people.

LinkedIn - If your site is aimed at professional or work based tasks, this one is a good choice. People tend to use professional portrait photos or images of them in work related situations. However is smaller than Facebook.

Twitter - Has a similar number of users to LinkedIn and the style of photos is probably balanced somewhere between social and professional. Although a chunk of accounts are probably brand/company ones.

Gravatar - Has a relatively small user base, mainly centred around the WordPress ecosystem. However is a great open project.

Which country your app is aimed at might also have an influence, as whilst Facebook is a leader in many countries, places such as Russia with VKontakte and China with Weibo or QZone, have different market leaders.

You could of course give you users the option to choose from a few of them, or upload a different image. More development time, however possibly the most flexible option.

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I think this answer depends on a number of things:

Signup: how are your users signing up for your service? If you are using Facebook front and center, users will just use this image and probably not want to change it. If you are using email also, the user will have to pick. This would work best as the user will understand your service and select the appropriate image for themselves.

Changability How easy is it for the user to change the image? If you let users log in with Facebook during registration, and present another step asking if they are ok with this image, this will probably alleviate the need to make one network the default image.

Adding Networks how does the user add Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to their profile? If they have to do it during registration, as them which image they would like to use. Users are smart, and will pick an appropriate image for your service. If the option to add network is part of their account settings, they won't have the option to select, again suggesting that they should chose their own upon registration.

Their is no one authoritative image regarding a user profile. Maybe the one the user needs for your service is none of the above. Let the user chose while making registration and changing the image easy.

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