Employees claim a new marketplace will help users buy and sell handles.
Credit: JOSH EDELSON/AFP via Getty Images
As X struggles to make money and retain users, CEO Elon Musk is trying to balance his bottom line by selling off unused account handles.
According to emails obtained by Forbes, a team called @Handle is building a marketplace for the purchase of usernames left unused by the people who originally registered them. And how much do they cost? In some cases, Forbes reports, a flat fee of $50,000.
The emails Forbes reviewed were sent from active X employees and “were not published in their entirety to protect the anonymity of their recipients.”
In a post from Oct. 2022, just a few days after he acquired the platform, Musk said that he was “definitely” going to address unused accounts. In Nov. 2022, he said he was “aiming to start freeing [unused handles] up next month.” The next month he tweeted, on Dec. 9 “Twitter will soon start freeing the name space of 1.5 billion accounts.”
In May, Musk tweeted that he had begun “purging accounts that have had no activity at all for several years,” which prompted some users to request that the company spare the inactive accounts of deceased account holders.
The selling of usernames has been against the platform’s terms of service since it was known as Twitter, though there is an established black market for handles. As of publication time, a help article on the X Help Center still read, “Username squatting is prohibited by the X Rules… We will not release squatted usernames except in cases of trademark infringement… Attempts to sell, buy, or solicit other forms of payment in exchange for usernames are also violations and may result in permanent account suspension.”
Elizabeth is a culture reporter at Mashable covering digital culture, fandom communities, and how the internet makes us feel. Before joining Mashable, she spent six years in tech, doing everything from running a wifi hardware beta program to analyzing YouTube content trends like K-pop, ASMR, gaming, and beauty. You can find more of her work for outlets like The Guardian, Teen Vogue, and MTV News right here.