When I logged in on Twitter via the web client in the morning, the interface was weird, but I couldn’t point exactly at the time. I realised afterwards my background photo has been replaced by a bland white background. Why is Twitter doing this? I wondered and decided to determine the reason.
Checking the official Twitter account for Twitter (don’t mind the tautology) and their various blogs revealed nothing. It seems they were rolling this quietly and by snooping around, it seems TechCrunch has contacted a spokesperson from the company to explain the changes. This is what the person said:
“We’re removing background images from the home and notifications timelines on web for all users. Now, background images are only available where logged-in users will see them publicly (Tweet pages, list pages and collections pages)”
I decided to check out the design tab on settings to see if this is was true. Interestingly enough, the design tab has not been removed and you can actually see the usual customizations for your background image.
Now, when you click on some template background images, it will only update the font colour that is associated with the theme. The rest seem to be working so it means they are rolling out the update slowly. However you can’t upload a custom background image.
So why is Twitter doing this? Well it seems they want to have a unified look for the timeline and restrict customization to the header, avatar and font colour via the web. Since changing your background was one of the customizations people used to make their profiles more “personal”, seeing it being phased is actually sad. I also noticed a while ago The Melon which was the to-go plugin for customizing your Twitter profile doesn’t work anymore.
On the mobile apps, you cannot customize the background and probably Twitter wants to make the experience on web and mobile homogeneous. Techcrunch also argues that the change could be due to the fact the company wants “more control of their ad display experience”. Twitter has been improving its advertisers platform so as to woo marketers by giving them key insights about the various demographics on the social network. The idea that Twitter is changing this for the advertising aspect makes sense.