Twitter has ditched the egg, abandoning the bird motif for a more generic option.
On Friday, Twitter introduced a new default profile picture, switching from the well-known egg to a simple human silhouette. Twitter hopes this change will encourage users to replace the default image with a real photo of themselves, dissuading people from remaining anonymous or being associated with trolls.
The egg has been Twitter’s default profile picture for seven years, but recently it has taken on a new meaning beyond the cute bird motif. Obviously, Twitter trolls, bots and others who use the site solely for abuse and harassment choose to remain anonymous, so the egg photo has become a signifier for this type of user. As playwright Ken Armstrong put it, “Never argue with an egg.”
Never argue with an egg.
Twitter is not oblivious to this unfortunate association. Here’s what the company cited as one of the reasons for ditching the egg:
“We’ve noticed patterns of behavior with accounts that are created only to harass others—often they don’t take the time to personalize their accounts. This has created an association between the default egg profile photo and negative behavior, which isn’t fair to people who are still new to Twitter and haven’t yet personalized their profile photo.”
Furthermore, the fact that the egg has basically been adopted by bad players on the platform was also harmful to Twitter users who wanted to remain anonymous for benevolent reasons.
“These regular users would be using a troll’s clothing in some ways, not realizing that they probably should be changing that,” Twitter’s senior manager of product design Bryan Haggerty told Fast Company.
Twitter’s new default avatar is a nondescript human silhouette. The company chose it because it found it to be everything a profile placeholder should be: generic, universal, serious, unbranded, temporary, and inclusive.
Why this matters: Twitter getting rid of the egg avatar is more than just a design choice. Recently, the company has been aggressively trying to curb the type of trolling, abuse, and harassment that have become somewhat synonymous with the service. One of the most significant changes was Twitter giving users the ability to hide tweets sent to them by people with the default profile picture. Getting rid of the egg completely seems to be Twitter’s way of using design to address that.
Sign up for Computerworld eNewsletters.