You’ve been there, or you’ve seen it happen: A super famous and/or high profile public person having the Twitter handle @Super_Model123 or @superrrmodel or some other such indirect iteration of their work name. These handles are fine, but they’re also not ideal.
Meanwhile, @SuperModel — the obvious choice for said super famous or high profile public person — is sitting in oblivion, with 391 followers and a tweet from 2012 that reads: “This is me tweeting!” That missive is followed by “Not getting this whole Twitter thing…” a few days later. And then, subsequently, nothing.
Oh, if only Super Model could find a way to pick up that @SuperModel handle, but alas — that account owner doesn’t even know what a DM is.
Well, TechCrunch recently reported on something exciting related to that whole “handle squatting” nonsense. They wrote: “Those who’ve attempted to snag their preferred Twitter handle know what a pain the process can be. Users can squat on an account for years, holding onto handles in spite of long stretches of inactivity.”
A BBC reporter, however, spotted a new move by Twitter that could help alleviate the situation. Dave Lee of the BBC wrote that, “The company is clawing back accounts that have been inactive for more than *six months*, which is likely a very large number. Inactive = user hasn’t *logged in*.”
Holy crap, that’s likely a lot of accounts! (Curious how Twitter will handle account that have been logged into but have not produced any visible engagement — in other words, a very refined lurker account.)
More on Twitter's action on inactive accounts: The company is clawing back accounts that have been inactive for more than *six months*, which is likely a very large number. Inactive = user hasn't *logged in*. Seeking clarification on what happens to useful/fun bot accounts.
— Dave Lee (@DaveLeeBBC) November 26, 2019
Twitter confirmed the move in an email to TechCrunch. They stated that:
As part of our commitment to serve the public conversation, we’re working to clean up inactive accounts to present more accurate, credible information people can trust across Twitter. Part of this effort is encouraging people to actively log-in and use Twitter when they register an account, as stated in our Inactive Accounts Policy. We have begun proactive outreach to many accounts who have not logged into Twitter in over six months to inform them that their accounts may be permanently removed due to prolonged inactivity.
Twitter then wrote back to TechCunch to clarify that freeing up handles is not so much of a standalone initiative as it is an effort to “present more accurate, credible information” on the platform. Nice, though mark my words: There will be no effort to “present more accurate, credible information” when it comes to fake sex worker accounts, imposter accounts and catfishers. I guess we can’t have everything though.
Interestingly, Twitter already has an inactive account policy in place, which “encourage[s] people to actively log in and use Twitter when they register an account.” To keep one’s account active, Twitter says to be sure to log in at least every six months. And though this six month rule hasn’t ever really been enforced (according to TechCrunch), Twitter does say that, “Accounts may be permanently removed due to prolonged inactivity.”
Now, per TechCrunch, Twitter is reaching out to inactive users, prompting them to log in prior to December 11 — that’s next week! — or risk being deleted. And though there’s no timeline set for any of this, a Twitter spokesperson noted in an email to TechCrunch that the freed up accounts “may” become available, though the process of removing old accounts will likely take a number of months.
But come December 11th there could be an almighty landgrab for newly-available accounts.
— Dave Lee (@DaveLeeBBC) November 26, 2019
So, pay attention super models! If there’s a handle out there that you wanted — that you deserve by the power of your brand — go take a look at it again. Will it be in the purge? And, if so, set some sort of alarm to remind you to check in on it from time to time. You never know…
Oh, and if you have an old account that you no longer log in to that you just don’t want to lose, make sure to check in on that also. Because if you’re out their hawking for an abandoned handle, it’s likely that someone else is looking to swoop in on your neglected accounts, too.
Erika is a sex positive people watcher (and writer). Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.