February 8, 2023

Twitter is considering selling usernames to generate new revenue as owner Elon Musk tries to revive the company, two people familiar with the matter said.

Twitter employees have been discussing selling some of the service’s usernames since at least December, people familiar with the matter said. The engineers have discussed running online auctions in which people can bid for usernames, which are the words, numbers or strings of characters that follow the @ sign that identify accounts on the platform. For example, Mr. Musk’s username is @elonmusk.

It was unclear whether the project would go ahead and whether the plan would affect all or just a subset of usernames, the people said. But Mr. Musk said last month that he wanted to start eliminating inactive accounts on Twitter and free up 1.5 billion usernames. Only certain usernames—such as those of famous people, brands, and popular names—may have value.

The social media company has been in turmoil since it was acquired by Musk for $44 billion last October. Given the high price tag of the deal, the billionaire is under pressure to complete the acquisition successfully.

Musk has since slashed Twitter spending, ordering layoffs, cutting other costs and stopping payments to suppliers. At the same time, he’s trying to find new ways to make money at a time when Twitter’s ad revenue has plummeted. He’s come up with a revamped subscription plan that would let users pay for verification badges, and the company has filed documents with the Treasury Department to process the payments.

Mr Musk has said his vision is to create “an all-encompassing app”, similar to China’s WeChat, which is used by more than a billion people to find news, connect with friends, pay and order food.

A unique username (also known as a handle) can be profitable. They are often embraced by early adopters of social media platforms, with some people and brands willing to pay thousands of dollars for them. A black market has sprung up where people can buy “Original Gangsta” or OG, usernames that are popular because they have a short word or number that may have been abandoned by their owners.

Twitter and Musk did not respond to requests for comment.

twitter rule Buying and selling handles is prohibited. The deal has attracted hackers before. In 2020, a 17-year-old in Florida was arrested after hacking into Twitter to obtain usernames to sell, compromising the accounts of Mr. Musk and celebrities.

telegrapha popular messaging platform, said it will let people auction off their controllers in October.

Four days after acquiring the company in October, Mr. Musk tweeted that he would “really” looking to purge accounts that have been inactive for a year, some with coveted usernames. In December, he said Twitter would make account names public. That is “Apparent account deletion, no tweets or logins in years.”

his plan cause concern Some of them worried that the company would delete the accounts of deceased people whose Twitter pages were used in their honor. As of July — the last time the company released financial figures — Twitter had nearly 238 million daily active users seeing ads.

Twitter is also continuing to lay off staff. Mr. Musk has reduced the company’s workforce by about 75% from the 7,500 employees when he took over. The new layoffs last week affected dozens of employees, including those in ad engineers and trust and safety, according to three people familiar with the matter. Information The layoffs were reported earlier.

This week, Mr. Musk, who also leads electric carmaker Tesla, emailed Twitter employees that he would be available for the meeting after finishing “most of my Tesla work.” He reminded them that he must approve all product design and engineering changes, “no matter how small,” according to a copy of the note seen by The New York Times.

“We’re going to grind hard until we get as close to perfect a product as possible,” Mr Musk wrote.

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