Perhaps it has happened to you. A thought startles your brain—perhaps about Donald Trump or the Marvel Universe or the upside-down smiley emoticon—and you decide, “Hey, why not let the good folks on Twitter know what’s in my heart?” A moment later, you receive a response from a stranger, Bud8675309 who, on account of not updating his avatar, appears to you as a floating egg on a purple background. Bud hates your opinion! He hates you! He has grotesque, extensive thoughts on how your life should end because of your unacceptable commentary on Groot.
Because so many Twitter trolls—or, to be more apt, abusers—operate under the cloak of egg-shaped anonymity, those of us who frequently encounter them refer to them as “eggs.” It’s accurate enough, and sufficiently diminishing. But as the A.V. Club reports, Twitter does not want to be so intimately tied to the abusive behavior performed by the Corp d’Eggs. Accordingly, they have arrived at a solution.
“More rigorous regulations against harassment?” you ask, as a hopeful tear glistens in your eye. LOL, no. But check this out! Twitter has swapped its default avatar from an egg to a shadow person—how’s that for problem solving?
In making this change, Twitter hopes to entice more of their users to upload original avatars. Their theory is that if the default avatar is even more bland, people will be less likely to keep it.
“We noticed that some people kept the egg default profile picture photo because they thought it was fun and cute,” Twitter Design wrote in a blog post, “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.”
Okay, that’s fine. Less anonymity in a space like Twitter seems beneficial. But then we come to Twitter’s second, absurdly specific reason for the switch.
They explain, “We’ve noticed patterns of behavior with accounts that are created only to harass other—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.”
With all due respect, this might be the least disconcerting aspect of Twitter egg harassment. Trolling is not a subtle practice: it’s generally quite clear who is new to Twitter and who has opened a burner account to send dick pics. The blog post discussing the new default avatar reads like a gust of sound and fury in light of the harassment issues Twitter has left largely untouched.
Fare thee well, Twitter egg. You always injected a bit of demented humor into the experience of being harassed. Now, when I am visited by shadowy specters calling me an evil cunt, the ordeal will have a tidy, creepy congruence. Here’s to progress.
Note: If you want to let Twitter know your thoughts on its harassment policies, you can always contact Jack Dorsey, the company’s fearless leader.