Harry McCracken, writing for Fast Company, describing how Twitter changed its default profile image to be a person instead of an egg:
A lot has changed since the Twitter egg debuted almost seven years ago. For one thing, the company’s design philosophy has evolved. Quirky is out; straightforward is in. Nowadays, “the playfulness of Twitter is in the content our users are creating, versus how much the brand steps forward in the UI,” says product designer Jen Cotton.
More significantly, the egg has taken on cultural associations that nobody could have anticipated in 2010. Rather than suggesting the promise of new life, it’s become universal shorthand for Twitter’s least desirable accounts: trolls (and bots) engaged in various forms of harassment and spam, created by people so eager to wreak anonymous havoc that they can’t be bothered to upload a portrait image […]
Starting today, however, the egg is history. Twitter is dumping the tarnished icon for a new default profile picture–a blobby silhouette of a person’s head and shoulders, intentionally designed to represent a human without being concrete about gender, race, or any other characteristic. Everyone who’s been an egg until now, whatever their rationale, will automatically switch over.
Twitter also has a blog post explaining how they arrived at the new profile image:
[P]eople have come to associate the circle head with masculinity, and because of this association, we felt that it was important to explore alternate head shapes. We reviewed many variations of our figure, altering both the head and shoulders to feel more inclusive to all genders. When the shoulders were wider, the image felt overly masculine, so we decreased the width of the shoulders and adjusted the height of the figure. As a result of these iterations, we ended with a more gender-balanced figure. We chose grays because they feel temporary, generic, and universal. With that, we included a higher contrast color combination to make this image accessible for those with visual impairments. Because of its coloring, the new profile photo also gives less prominence to accounts with a default profile photo.
It’s unfortunate that Twitter’s slowness to deal with its harassment problem has led to bizarre associations with Twitter Eggs. Maybe changing to the new default profile photo will prevent memes from sprouting up (“Twitter Default Person” just doesn’t have the same bite as “Twitter Egg”) but the same underlying issues will remain until Twitter does more to take on trolls.
Shorter: Russians and other creeps can still harass you anonymously but we swapped out the egg for this thing. pic.twitter.com/rPpFiotCHW
— Peter Kafka (@pkafka) March 31, 2017