Twitter has replaced the default avatar on the social network, dropping the infamous egg for a gray person-shaped figure.
The egg has been the default Twitter avatar since 2010, and the idea was that it mirrored a user just starting out on the platform with an egg hatching into a (Twitter) bird. However, the egg avatar has since become a symbol of abuse, as it is the profile picture used by people who want to remain unknown on purpose.
Twitter Cracks The Egg
In a rather detailed post on its official blog, Twitter explained why it decided to replace the default egg avatar on the social network.
According to the post, Twitter is looking to encourage users to upload their own pictures with the move and to help urge for more self-expression. Some users were keeping the egg profile picture because they thought it was cute and fun, but with the new default avatar looking more like a placeholder, Twitter is hoping that users would replace the image with a picture of themselves.
Twitter also acknowledged that the egg profile picture has been associated with accounts that people created only to harass other users. The company says that this is unfair for new users who have not yet gotten around to personalizing their profile picture.
Twitter then went on to narrate the process through which it was able to arrive at the gray person-like figure as the new default avatar on the social network. The default image is made gray to signify that it is only intended to be a temporary profile picture, and for inclusivity, the head shape was made non-circular, as a circle head has been associated with masculinity.
Replacing The Egg Does Not Solve The Abuse Problem On Twitter
While replacing the default avatar on Twitter will do away with the stigma of abuse that has been associated with the egg profile picture, the move does nothing to provide a long-term solution to the harassment that is going on in the social network.
Abusive tweets that are sent from a Twitter account with the gray person-like figure as its profile picture will not be any different from abusive tweets sent from a Twitter account with an egg profile picture. Having the new default profile picture while certainly looking more like a placeholder than the egg will not do much in urging people to upload a real picture of themselves when the account that they just created will only be used to harass other users.
Instead of going through the process of thinking up a replacement default profile picture for Twitter, the company might have spent its time better if it instead tackled the abuse problem head-on. While Twitter has made some progress on that front, such as allowing users to mute specific words on their timeline and warning of sensitive content in profiles, abuse is still prevalent on the social network. Some time from now, Twitter might have to replace its default avatar again, as this new one will have become associated with abusive accounts, similar to how the egg profile picture is seen now.