The change, which took place earlier this week, affects the home and notifications timelines; background images are still being displayed on tweet, list and collection pages.
Not surprisingly, the reaction on Twitter to Twitter’s move was generally not kind, with many users expressing disappointment at the stale white appearance of the service and the loss of functionality that enabled them to express themselves.
Twitter isn’t showing my rainbow background, and instead it’s just grey. It’s make me very depressed. I NEED RAINBOWS IN MY LIFE TWITTER
— Aureylian (@aureylian) July 21, 2015
For years, background images have been a fixture on the popular social media platform, and there’s even a cottage industry of designers who will, for a fee, create custom backgrounds specifically for Twitter profiles.
Many Brands, of course, have used Twitter’s background functionality to make their Twitter profiles more important, convey information to their Twitter followers, and promote marketing campaigns.
They too are left out in the cold by Twitter’s abrupt change.
One door closes, another opens?
Obviously, Twitter’s new background-less appearance won’t be the end of the world for brands, but it could also signal future changes designed to help them.
Some are speculating that Twitter will use the real estate it has taken back for new advertising offerings. Even if it doesn’t, others suggest that the cleaner look could help Twitter’s existing ad products.
As Chris Tuff of agency 22squared pointed out, autoplay video ads and Promoted Tweets might stand out more when they don’t have to contend with flashy background images.
For now, Twitter isn’t revealing much about its motivations, so users and brands will have to wait to see whether Twitter’s decision was made in advance of a new ad push, or whether it truly was part of an effort to clean up the user experience.
In the meantime, Twitter has reminded everybody that social platforms are still evolving and features everyone takes for granted can be eliminated literally overnight without warning.