The latest ‘new Twitter’ is here. Remember when it looked like this?


Michelle Obama’s Twitter account, with the latest redesign. (Twitter)

Facebook wants to be Twitter, Twitter wants to be Facebook, and users want both platforms to please, for the love of God, stay the way they are.

Twitter Tuesday announced a major profile redesign that will, among other things, display a distinctly Facebook-ian full-width banner photo and let users “pin” their best tweets to the top of the page. The new profiles also include information, such as when the user joined Twitter and what his or her most-engaged tweets are.

So far, only a select handful of movie stars, musicians and French TV hosts (?) have the new design. But there’s already an undercurrent of grumbling audible on Twitter — you know, that usual mix of annoyance and knowing indignation that accompanies every. single. redesign. ever.

That people resist change on the Internet is not particularly surprising. People resist change everywhere; it’s kind of an inevitable hiccup of human nature.

But complaints about change on social networks have an extra tang of irony. For one thing, this has all happened before, and we have all been perfectly fine. The Twitter you use in 2014 looks nothing like the original Twitter. (And good thing, too, because that Twitter is hideous.)


A screenshot of Twitter from November 2006. (Ian Forrester/Flickr)

On top of that, the Internet is hypothetically a place that embraces change. Our most tired buzzwords — “innovation,” “early adopters” — are loaded with it. The whole ethic of the Internet (young, hip, weird, grass roots) is set up in opposition to the opposition of change. Twitter itself churns — that is, changes! — every millisecond.


A screenshot of Twitter in July 2007. (Imelda/Flickr)

And yet! The Twitter redesign shocks and appalls. Maybe that’s because we’re all secretly traditionalists at heart. Or maybe it’s because the only thing Twitter likes more than change … is indignation.

Caitlin Dewey runs The Intersect blog, writing about digital and Internet culture. Before joining the Post, she was an associate online editor at Kiplinger’s Personal Finance.
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