Twitter has dumped backgrounds and customized wallpapers, much to the chagrin of its users (though many haven’t noticed at all).
Twitter has no explanation as to why, only stating, “We’re removing background images from home and notifications timelines on web for all users,” in a statement to The Telegraph.
“Now, background images are only available where logged-in users will see them publicly (Tweet pages, list pages, and collections pages). You can find help center content about customizing your design and where it’s visible on Twitter here.”
Most users have taken to their feeds to berate Twitter and mourn the loss of their meticulously curated background. But others are looking forward to what this may mean for Twitter. Some speculation suggests that Twitter is preparing for its Project Lightening, unveiled in June. Project Lightening is an initiative aiming to bring a whole new feature to mobile Twitter. It would be a separate space where event-based content would feed, implementing instant-load video, rich images, embedding across other web apps, and more. This would make it incredibly easy for both logged-in and non-logged-in users to follow an event or breaking news without having to search through hashtags or news accounts.
With the launch of Periscope on iOS and Android this year, it’s likely that Twitter’s marketing focus is shifting. Most often considered a social-networking platform where users tweet, retweet, converse, and essentially connect with each other, Twitter has discovered that many are passive users. They follow the posts of news accounts and profiles of personal interest, but never post anything themselves. They use it as a news outlet. Project Lightning will capitalize on this further, and when it rolls out later this year, it can possibly use the newly cleaned background as real estate for ad space, curated content, or simply a clean slate that implies a “trustworthy news outlet.”