Twitter Is Considering Selling Usernames to Boost Revenue, According to Reports

Chief Twit Elon Musk previously said the company would start "freeing" the namespace of 1.5 billion accounts that are "obvious account deletions with no tweets."

learn more about Gabrielle Bienasz

By Gabrielle Bienasz • Jan 12, 2023

SOPA Images / Contributor I Getty Images
Twitter verified account.

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.

The company's New York City headquarters reportedly did not have toilet paper last week. Twitter has also seen a decline in advertising revenue.

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.

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."

Gabrielle Bienasz

Entrepreneur Staff

Gabrielle Bienasz is a staff writer at Entrepreneur. She previously worked at Insider and Inc. Magazine. 

Related Topics

Editor's Pick

Have More Responsibilities at Work, But No Pay Bump? Use This Script to Get the Raise You Deserve.
Black and Asian Founders Face Opposition at All Levels — Here's Why That Has to Change
Business News

Frontier Airlines Just Announced Its All-You-Can-Fly Summer Pass for $399. What's the Catch?

As travel begins to pick up, the airline hopes unlimited travel will jumpstart its business.

Thought Leaders

5 Small Daily Habits Self-Made Millionaires Use to Grow Their Wealth

We've all seen what self-made millionaires look like on TV, but it's a lot more subtle than that. Brian Tracy researched what small daily habits these successful entrepreneurs adopted on their journey from rags to riches.

Business News

Mark Cuban's Grocery Store Hack Will Help You Score Cheaper Produce

The billionaire talked about his early days in Dallas when he was strapped for cash.

Growing a Business

The Success of Your PR Campaign Depends on These 3 Essential Elements

A successful PR campaign requires these three critical ingredients to ensure you're on the right path to success.