Twitter suspended 70 million accounts in in the past two months as part of a crackdown on malicious activity on its platform, according to a report in The Washington Post.
While you may not think this crackdown will impact you, there is one surprising way in which Twitter’s attempts to control abuse on the platform might. Last year Twitter made it possible to filter out accounts with the default “egg” profile picture, so that they don’t appear in your notifications. Twitter will also let you filter out notifications from users who haven’t verified their email addresses or phone numbers.
It is still surprising to me the number of new (and not-so new) Twitter users who start tweeting from an account with no clearly identifiable name, bio, or profile picture. The first and most fundamental thing to understand about Twitter is that it is a conversation. Would you approach someone at an event and not introduce yourself first? Would you keep your face hidden from view while you hold a conversation? And yet this is precisely what some users do when they set up their Twitter accounts. Many Twitter users will not follow accounts without a profile picture on the assumption it is a fake account and now with these new changes it will be easier than ever to weed out these accounts.
A study published by researchers from Microsoft and Carnegie Mellon University, “Tweeting Is Believing? Understanding Microblog Credibility Perceptions,” analyzed how users assess Twitter credibility. The study found that:
- users are poor judges of truthfulness based on content alone, and instead are influenced by heuristics such as user name when making credibility assessments.
- users represented by the default Twitter icon, or a cartoon avatar are perceived as significantly less credible than users with a personal photo.
As soon as you have created your Twitter account, you should replace the default image with your own picture. This is easily done in your Twitter account settings. Twitter is about human connections. When uploading a picture, don’t use a cartoon, or any other animate or inanimate object for your profile. A professional close-up head shot works best. You also have an opportunity to personalise your profile by uploading a custom header image alongside your profile picture. Use this opportunity to bring more authenticity to your account.
Related Reading: The Beginner’s Guide to Twitter