A web developer made an interesting experiment on her online service.
Kapwing blog: Why I don't use my real photo when messaging with customers on my website
She is a founder of Kapwing, a startup software company. She has been engaged in a customer service chat. But she was suffering from some sexual messages.
Therefore, she decided to change her icon from her real photo to a cofounder's. Then, the number of sexual messages rapidly decreased. It seemed obvious that a male photo did not attract the attention of rude customers. Then, she made a series of experiments. When she used a photo of a blond lady, sexual messages rocketed. In contrast, there were few customers attacking a cat icon. She concluded that humans could not be aggressive against cats.
An icon is an icon. We know that cats, dogs, and toys cannot speak or chat. At the same time, we should recognize the possibility that the counterpart of the chat is not a person the icon suggests.
In reality, however, the icon influences on customers' behavior. It suggests how we are easy to be disguised. In a situation you have to suppress sexual impulse, it is a good way to imagine the face of your mother.