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Elon Musk Says Twitter Will Purge Inactive Accounts, Which Could Give You the Handle You've Always Wanted

This could open up more than a billion accounts, potentially giving access to much-desired handles.

Imad Khan Senior Reporter
Imad is a senior reporter covering Google and internet culture. Hailing from Texas, Imad started his journalism career in 2013 and has amassed bylines with The New York Times, The Washington Post, ESPN, Tom's Guide and Wired, among others.
Expertise Google | Internet Culture
Imad Khan
2 min read
Twitter usernames may be opening up

Elon Musk says Twitter will purge old and inactive accounts. 

James Martin/CNET

If you haven't logged into your Twitter account in a few years, you could be at risk of losing your handle. And if you've been waiting for a handle to free up, you could be in luck soon. Elon Musk, CEO of Twitter, Tesla, SpaceX and a handful of other companies, said in a tweet on Monday that the social media platform will begin "purging" accounts that "have had no activity at all for several years."

Musk gave no timeline for when the change will take place, but warned that post-expulsion, people should expect their followers to drop. 

The notice comes after Musk said in December that Twitter would start "freeing the name space of 1.5 billion accounts," clarifying that these would be "obvious account deletions with no tweets & no log in [sic] for years."

Unfortunately, Musk didn't clarify exactly what this would mean for accounts of the deceased or provide an option to memorialize those accounts. And if accounts are opened up for claiming, it could once again lead to another impersonation problem for Twitter, one that continues to plague the site as blue check marks are now available for purchase.

In a reply to Musk, John Carmack, founder of ID Software, cautioned against deleting inactive accounts, saying that it'll make sourcing historic tweets more challenging. It could also mean that Twitter threads from years ago would be fragmented with gaps of unavailable tweets. 

Twitter didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. 

Elon Musk purchased Twitter late last year for $44 billion. Since then, the site has seen an 80% reduction in work force, leaving around 1,500 employees. Twitter has also had a number of controversies, from rises in hate speech, account impersonations, verification check marks being taken away from legacy accounts and major publications and a very public spat with NPRMusk told staff in March that Twitter's value is now $20 billion, less than half of what he bought it for. 

In the wake of Twitter's takeover, a few alternatives have floated up hoping to attract disaffected users, including Bluesky Social, founded by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, Hive and Mastodon.