The egg avatar which has been the default profile picture on Twitter has been dropped over fears that it could be linked to online abuse.
“We’ve noticed patterns of behaviour with accounts that are created only to harass others – often they don’t take the time to personalise their accounts,” the social media giant said in a blog post.
“This has created an association between the default egg profile photo and negative behaviour, which isn’t fair to people who are still new to Twitter and haven’t yet personalised their profile photo.”
The move has been criticised however with critics saying that it will not deter hate speech especially if users are not required to display a picture of themselves and can therefore remain anonymous.
The company explained that the default avatar was designed to be “a playful way to reference how eggs hatch into birds that send out all the tweets you see on Twitter”.
The vast majority of Twitter’s 320 million active users have changed their profile picture and the company is actively encouraging others to do the same claiming that it encourages “more personal expression”.
Rethinking our default profile photo. 🐣 https://t.co/5UjUltJwkf
— Twitter Design (@design) 31 March 2017
The egg is the third default avatar used since the site was launched in 2006 and follows on from a person in silhouette that later evolved into two circles.
The final figure will be designed to be neither masculine of feminine although Twitter users are required to disclose their gender.
Not surprisingly the response from Twitter users has been mixed with one commenting that: “Evil has a new face.”
The site has been criticised in the past for its apparent reluctance to take action against those who use its platform to insult or criticise other people and organisations.