Twitter puts the kibosh on background images

Your themed wallpaper is no longer visible on your Twitter timeline or Notifications pages, leaving just a white background. But why has the company removed it?

Lance Whitney Contributing Writer
Lance Whitney is a freelance technology writer and trainer and a former IT professional. He's written for Time, CNET, PCMag, and several other publications. He's the author of two tech books--one on Windows and another on LinkedIn.
Lance Whitney
2 min read

Hey Twitter, why did you kill off our background images? screenshot by Lance Whitney/CNET

Does Twitter look a bit more plain now? It's not just you.

On Monday, Twitter started removing the background image or wallpaper from the pages of Twitter users. Specifically, your Twitter timeline and Notifications page no longer sport whatever background image you may have set up. Instead, the background is now bathed in a plain off-white color, making the pages seem much less vibrant.

The plain background is present whether you're viewing your own Twitter page or the pages of other tweeters. Only the top header image still appears.

The change doesn't seem to be going over well with those on the Twittersphere. Twitter has long offered the ability to display a background image as a way to spice up and promote your own page to distinguish it from all the other pages. And what's especially frustrating is that you can go into your Twitter settings to set up a new background image that then appears on your page. But when you close the Twitter website and then reopen it, your background image is gone. As such, many tweeters have been complaining about the site's boring new look.

"Hey, Twitter. The #blindingwhite background is clean, boring, and not what I chose. Aside from that, it's brilliant," tweeted comedian and actor Harry Shearer.

Another tweeter said: "It's too bad, Harper Lee was going to publish her 3rd novel exclusively as a Twitter background. Oh well."

And here's one more comment: "So Twitter has decided to change all the profiles to a white background, the same thing Myspace did right before they went down in flames!"

A Twitter spokesperson confirmed the move to Mashable on Monday with the following statement: "We're removing background images from the home and notifications timelines on web for all users. 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."

And in fact, the support page now states: "You can customize your design theme so that users who click to view your Tweet detail pages will see it. Other than your theme color, your design theme will not be visible on your profile or Home timeline."

So why would Twitter make a move that gives its site and our pages a more boring generic look? Good question. Perhaps Twitter actually wants a plainer, less cluttered look to our pages. Or maybe the company has plans to place other content on our profile and timeline pages and doesn't want a colorful, themed background to get in the way.

Twitter did not immediately respond to CNET's request for comment.