Twitter, which was acquired by Elon Musk in late October, is looking to boost revenue by selling usernames, according to a report from The New York Times.
The outlet cited “two people with knowledge of the plan.”
The swaps of usernames (or handles) can be big business.
People will sometimes take to a social media network early and make an account with a certain handle so they can hassle brands or other large entities for thousands to obtain the coveted username. Handles are also sometimes bought and sold on black markets, the NYT reported.
Twitter has had a chaotic few months following Musk’s purchase in the fall. It has been sued for not paying rent and not paying a marketing firm, has faced reports that severance payouts for its thousands of laid-off staff have not been as expected, and launched new programs, like a revamped Twitter Blue.
Twitter reportedly owes $136,260 in unpaid rent, per a lawsuit.
Ninety-two percent of the company’s revenue came from advertising in Q1 2022, per an April quarterly filing.
Musk previously raged about fake and “bot” accounts before buying the company, and in December Tweeted, “Twitter will soon start freeing the name space of 1.5 billion accounts.”
“These are obvious account deletions with no tweets & no log in for years,” he added.
These are obvious account deletions with no tweets & no log in for years
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 9, 2022
It is also potentially planning to add processing payments from users, according to Treasury filings obtained by the outlet.
The sources told the NYT that the company could auction off usernames. Twitter rules currently prevent the selling of usernames.
But it’s Musk’s company now.
At least one notable username swap has already occurred. The office of Benjamin Netanyahu, who was recently sworn in (again) as prime minister of Israel, initiated the country’s purchase of the handle @Israel, according to The Guardian, some 12 years ago.
The outlet reported that, in 2010, when Netanyahu also held the prime minister post, his office contacted a man named Israel Meléndez, who had, in 2007, made an account with the handle “Israel.”
Meléndez said Netanyahu sent him direct messages and he sold the handle to the country for a “five zeroes” sum, despite being against the company’s policy.
Entrepreneur has reached out to Twitter for comment.
Israel still has the handle. The state’s bio says “yes, it’s really us.”