Recently I had one of my readers reach out with a peculiar problem: she was new Twitter and had just opened her account but couldn’t figure how to change the names on her profile. The reason for this — she had used her first and last names and wanted to remove them.
Before reaching out she had gone through the usual, that is, consulting Twitter help pages and even futilely contacting but got no response. The former had proved somewhat useful as it indicated that she only had to click the Edit Profile button on her profile, then edit the name field. Problem is, there was no such button on her profile.
Now, I’m not Twitter support, but I found this interesting enough to investigate, not to mention to assist my reader. A few searches later and it was clear this wasn’t an isolated case. More interestingly, the apparent solution is so counter-intuitive, one can only conclude this either a bug or a poor security measure on the part of Twitter.
The fix is rather simple: add a profile picture to your Twitter account. Yes, a profile picture is all it takes for the button to magically reappear.
You see my reader, as you would expect from a new user, had assumed that a profile picture wasn’t necessary when she was setting up her account. So presumably she either skipped that part, or equally probable, she for some reason didn’t complete the entire account set-up wizard.
The latter has happened to me, with the result that the account in question was suspended even before I could start using it.
Anyway, the bigger question that emerges from this is whether this “workaround” is the result of a bug or is it just the handiwork of Twitter.
My money is on the latter. The issue seems too glaring to be a bug, but a feature; perhaps it’s a security feature to flag suspicious accounts that are potentially bot created. That would be my best guess since Twitter doesn’t seem to mention this strange behavior anywhere in their help pages.
In any case, it’s very frustrating to legitimate users, many of who are bound to create new accounts as a quick way out. The brighter side — more zombie accounts for Twitter to add to their user base stats.