Elon Musk’s X has started selling off Twitter handles for upwards of $76,000

Innovation

Rumoured to be in the works for the past year, the initiative appears to have begun rolling out recently, with email solicitations being sent to potential buyers.
Elon Musk's X account

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X, the social media site formerly known as Twitter, appears to have begun ramping up efforts to sell disused user handles, kicking off a program previously signalled by billionaire owner Elon Musk.

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 (AU$76,000) 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 rumoured 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; Forbes couldn’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.

Musk might want to consider using his own service to purchase at least one account soon: @handle itself, which hasn’t posted since 2019. Fittingly, its last post hinted at a relaunch, but its associated website had long since gone defunct.

This article was first published on forbes.com and all figures are in USD.

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