By dropping the egg, Twitter claims to combat harassment
Twitter recently announced that they were dropping the default egg avatar for new users, and replacing it with a generic silhouette. They say that the new avatar is a more pleasing aesthetic, but they also claim that it will curb harassment and bullying by trolls and anonymous users.
In recent months, the Twitter egg has come to symbolize the hordes of anonymous users who sign up for multiple accounts used solely for the purpose of harassing others. One such infamous incident is when Saturday Night Live cast member Leslie Jones was harassed by racist and misogynist Twitter users who were using scores of anonymous accounts with the egg avatar. To put it bluntly, if Twitter thinks that by changing the default avatar from one generic one to another is going to curb harassment, it’s obvious that they are greatly mistaken. The trolls and their ilk will continue to just use the default avatar whether it’s an egg or a shadow because they’ll put minimal effort into opening new accounts used only for harassment.
Since Twitter has largely failed to do anything about its harassment problem a different social network has seen a spike in users, possibly due to their policies that distance themselves from Twitter in this aspect. Mastodon has implemented a policy that specifically bans those who espouse the views of Nazis. Since the open-source service is based in Germany, German law specifically bans Nazi iconography and Holocaust denial. Mastodon has also implemented other features that are designed to discourage harassment by offering better privacy controls among other options.
Is Mastodon or any other Twitter clone on the precipice of taking over the social network market? Not really. However, if Twitter continues to descend into a quagmire of persecution without any intervention on Twitter’s behalf, then its userbase could splinter off into other avenues, leaving it a more recent equivalent of MySpace.