Elon Musk Appears To Be Selling Inactive Twitter Handles To Make Money

Forbes Magazine is reporting that Elon Musk has appeared to have set up a group whose sole purpose is sell inactive Twitter handles. Something that he did warn about after he bought Twitter:

Emails obtained by Forbes reveal that a team within the company, known as the @Handle Team, has begun work on a handle marketplace for the purchase of account names left unused by the people who originally registered them. In at least some cases, X/Twitter has emailed solicitations to potential buyers requesting a flat fee of $50,000 to initiate a purchase.

The emails, which Forbes agreed not to publish in their entirety to protect the anonymity of their recipients, came from active X employees and noted that the company recently made updates to its @handle guidelines, process and fees.

An automated response from X’s press email account to Forbes as of publication time said only: “Busy now, please check back later.”

Musk’s company has been rumored to be planning to put such a program into effect for months. As early as November 2022, Musk posted on the social media site that a “vast number” of handles had been taken by “bots and trolls” and that he planned to start “freeing them up next month.” (In response, a user suggested a “Handle Marketplace” where people could sell accounts to each other, with the site pocketing a fee; Forbescouldn’t determine whether such a practice is now in place.)

By the next month, X employees were already discussing the sale of X/Twitter handles, per a January report by The New York Times, with Musk posting that he planned to free up as many as 1.5 billion usernames “soon.” In May, X began purging defunct accounts from its site.

As of Friday evening, X’s username registration policy posted on its website still stated “unfortunately, we cannot release inactive usernames at this time.” Its “inactive account policy,” meanwhile, warned users to log in every 30 days to avoid being considered inactive, but also said X was not currently releasing inactive usernames.

I think that money is only part of the story here. Elon has to know that once that this story got out there, people who have sort of become laissez faire about their Twitter usage may be encouraged to use Twitter more often. That of course boosts engagement which helps Elon try to convince people that Twitter is worth being on. Let’s see how well this latest brainwave works out for Elon.

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