Commentary

Twitter Axes Wallpaper on Home Pages

There was general consternation and violent upheaval on Tuesday as people discovered that Twitter has done a little redecorating of their home pages, notifications, and timelines, which now no longer sport individual wallpapers, leaving a very zen white blank space where users previously had pictures of cats or whatever. The pages still sport their header images, but that’s it.

According to a statement from Twitter, “Now, background images are only available where logged-in users will see them publicly (Tweet pages, list pages, and collections pages).” Twitter slowly began removing wallpaper from profiles last year, beginning with accounts for new users, but now the microblogging site has given everybody’s interior design schemes the chop.

While Twitter hasn’t explained why, precisely, it took an axe to everyone’s lovingly chosen backgrounds, it seems pretty clear that it is a move to “de-clutter” the platform visually. As a number of Twitter users (of a certain age) noted, MySpace, that little-mourned pioneer of social networking, did something similar not long before it imploded. However, anyone who can recall the seizure-inducing, frenzied blinking chaos of MySpace pages might argue that wasn’t such a bad idea, whereas most people’s Twitter backgrounds weren’t nearly so distracting.

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The move comes amid Twitter’s sweeping revamp of the platform following mounting investor concern over its long-term growth and engagement prospects, which prompted former CEO Dick Costolo to step down last month.

Meanwhile in June, Twitter previewed a major new feature, dubbed “Project Lightning,” that allows Twitter and its users to aggregate content around events in curated spaces on the platform, including photos and videos. And in May, Twitter unveiled a partnership with Google, allowing U.S. users to see relevant tweets in Google search results within the Google app and on the mobile Web. A similar integration for desktop search results is in the works.

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