Musk Offers Inactive Twitter Handles at $50K Each
X, the social media platform owned by Elon Musk, has reportedly started soliciting potential buyers to purchase inactive user accounts for a $50,000 fee.
The move comes after Musk previously suggested implementing an account marketplace.
Emails uncovered by Forbes indicate X’s “@Handle Team” is facilitating the transactions, which Musk proposed last year as a way to “free up” dormant usernames. Neither he nor X has officially commented on the reported account sales.
Plan Aims to Address Bot and Troll Accounts
Musk’s idea for an account marketplace first came in response to a user proposing the concept on X in November 2022. At the time, Musk said the marketplace could help combat bot and troll accounts occupying handles.
He suggested these inactive or fake accounts could be made available for others to purchase and put to active use. This appears to be the motivation behind X now seeking buyers willing to pay $50,000 per handle.
X Employees Sending Sales Solicitations
Forbes obtained emails showing X employees reaching out to potential account buyers with $50,000 price tags. The emails noted updated X guidelines, procedures and fees related to profile handles.
The report indicates X has been proactively facilitating account sales through its internal @Handle Team rather than just creating a broad marketplace for public exchange.
Part of Musk’s Vow to “Liberate” Dormant Accounts
Earlier this year, Musk suggested up to 1.5 billion X usernames could be “liberated” through removals of inactive profiles and resales.
In May, X did begin clearing out accounts that had been abandoned by their original owners. This purge paved the way to reassign these handles to new users for a substantial fee.
Initiative Aims to Boost X Value and Revenue
The paid account marketplace represents Musk and X’s strategy to extract more value from the platform’s vast cache of usernames.
With X’s valuation plunging below Musk’s purchase price last year, selling handles could aid in increasing revenue. Musk has set ambitious goals to make X profitable again by 2024.
Fetching substantial sums for recycled accounts could support that aim and reduce X’s losses. The company also hopes to rebuild its advertising base further.
Ethical Issues Around Account Ownership Remain
Some users have raised ethical issues around X profiting off selling established accounts to others against the original owner’s wishes.
There are also concerns that purchased accounts could enable impersonation or harassment by obtaining reputable handles.
However, Musk argues inactive profiles are better off revived by active users who find value in a handle.
Response to Initiative Remains Unclear
It’s uncertain whether X will attract buyers willing to pay the hefty price tag for unused accounts. $50,000 is prohibitively expensive for most individuals seeking a specific username.
The platform’s rollout of a paid verification system saw underwhelming uptake as well. But X likely aims to court deep-pocketed brands eyeing prominent accounts.
Time will tell if the account marketplace gains significant traction as X seeks new ways to monetize its platform.