Elon Musk Says that Twitter is in the Process of Purging Inactive Accounts and Freeing Up @Handles

Now could be the time to grab that Twitter username that you’ve always wanted, which has thus far been unavailable in the app, with Twitter chief Elon Musk announcing that the company is currently in the process of removing inactive profiles from its system.

We’re purging accounts that have had no activity at all for several years, so you will probably see follower count drop

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 8, 2023

Elon has also confirmed that this will result in many @handles becoming available, which could give you the chance to grab that top username that you’ve always wanted in the app.

If spammers and scammers don’t snap them all up first, that is.

Which was a key problem identified in this process when Twitter first proposed it, shortly after Elon took control at the app.

Back in December, Elon said that Twitter would soon be freeing up some 1.5 billion usernames that were no longer active.

Twitter will soon start freeing the name space of 1.5 billion accounts

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 9, 2022

Twitter delayed that process after users called for an exploration of memorialization, in order to keep the accounts of deceased users still active. But now, Musk is seemingly moving ahead. It’s not clear if memorialization is a part of this new plan, but apparently, Twitter is now in the process of freeing up these @handles.

Does that mean that these accounts, and their old tweets, will be deleted entirely? Will it now be a free-for-all in trying to get these vacant handles, or will there be some other process (at one stage, Elon was entertaining the idea of an auction for freed account names)?

Does that mean that users who lose followers as a result, and potentially drop below the threshold for, say, monetization will still be able to use Subscriptions?

We don’t know, and because Twitter has no comms department, we can’t ask, we can only go on what Lord Elon shares with us via his tweets – which could actually be the way that Elon likes it.

So, really, we only know what you do, and we can only speculate based on the same, but it does seem, based on what Musk has shared, that dormant @handles will gradually be made available as Twitter deactivates them over time.

Note: Musk has clarified that some accounts, like those of deceased celebrities, will be left, so there will be at least some concessions.

UPDATE: Musk has added that all deactivated accounts will be archived, but their @handles will be made available to other users. How that will work in practice remains to be seen.

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