Twitter employees have held conversations about selling some user names for the service since at least December. Engineers have discussed running online auctions where people can bid for the user names, which are the words, numbers or string of characters that follow the @ sign by which accounts are identified on the platform. Elon Musk’s user name, for example, is @elonmusk.
It’s unclear if the project will move forward and if the plan affects all user names or only a subset, the people said. But Elon said last month that he wanted to start eliminating inactive accounts on Twitter and free up 1.5 billion user names. Only certain user names — such as those of well-known people, brands and popular names — may have value.
Musk has said he has visions of creating “an everything app,” similar to China’s WeChat, which more than a billion people use to find news, connect to friends, make payments and order food.
Unique user names — also known as handles — can be lucrative. They are often claimed by early adopters of social media platforms and some people and brands are willing to pay thousands of dollars for them.
Twitter’s rules forbid the buying and selling of handles. The trade has previously attracted hackers.
Telegram, a popular messaging platform, said it would let people auction their handles in October.
Four days after acquiring the company in October, Musk tweeted that he would “definitely” look to purge accounts that have been inactive for a year, some of which have coveted user names. In December, he said Twitter would free up the names of accounts that were “obvious account deletions with no tweets & no log in for years.”
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