Chalk this one up in the “Why would you bother spending time thinking about this, never mind investing resources to make it a thing?” category. I spend a lot of time on Twitter, and I can literally say it has never occurred to me that it needed to be changed.
Twitter made headlines in the tech world today with the announcement that the default avatar is changing from an egg shape to a sort of shapeless human blob silhouette. The move raises two very important questions: “Why?” and “Who cares?”.
Twitter shared news of the switch from egg to humanoid in a blog post. The post explains that, in part, Twitter feels like the new default avatar will be incentive for people to stop using the default avatar. “We noticed that some people kept the egg default profile photo because they thought it was fun and cute, but we want people to use this space to show us who they are! The new default image feels more like an empty state or placeholder, and we hope it encourages people to upload images that express themselves.”
Twitter shares a couple other reasons for the switch, and then goes into detail about the process of deciding on which humanoid silhouette blob shape most accurately represents Twitter. For example, “We had to determine how to bring inclusivity into our single default profile photo, given that we don’t require people to specify their gender on Twitter. We felt that the circle of the head in the figure still seemed masculine, even though it technically had no design characteristics to indicate that it was a man. So for inspiration, we looked at how women are portrayed in generic, way finding iconography, such as bathroom signs, and noticed that the only difference between the sexes is the shape of their clothing.”
I don’t dislike the new default avatar per se. I think it’s dumb, just like I thought the egg was dumb, which is why one of the first things I did when I created my Twitter account was change the default avatar. In my opinion, the egg was already plenty of incentive.
That brings us to the important questions. Let’s start with, “Why?”. I mean, of all the things that Twitter could think of, why even bother with this? First of all, the egg makes sense in the context of the Twitter bird. There was a theme. Humanoid blob isn’t an improvement.
If developers are just sitting around looking for things to do at Twitter, there are so many other issues—both small and large—that Twitter could choose to focus its resources on. For example, fake accounts. According to Twitter Audit, 2,075 of the accounts that follow my @Techspective handle—or about 14 percent—are fake. Trump’s account has more than 6 million, and Barack Obama has just under 18 million fake accounts according to Twitter Audit. On a percentage basis, Obama actually has Trump beat—79 percent valid accounts compared to Trump’s 73 percent. Because Obama has more than three times the Twitter followers of Trump, he can also have three times the fake accounts and still come out ahead.
Based on just those three accounts—which is an admittedly small sampling—it seems that roughly 20 percent of all Twitter accounts are fake. Changing the default avatar for those accounts from an egg to a human silhouette doesn’t solve anything.
Read the full story on Forbes: Two Important Questions About The New Default Twitter Avatar.