The Frustrating State Of Obtaining Inactive Twitter Usernames

Imagine you come up with a great idea for a blog, or business idea.  Or maybetwitter-dead you just are helping a good friend out with getting them their website up finally.  You’ve got the domain name, the business or organization is registered, and you’re just about good to go.

Then you go to obtain your social media usernames.  You know going into it that there’s a good chance it’s probably already taken, but worth a shot anyway.  You go to Twitter, enter your desired username, and RATS…it’s taken.  But that’s not really what’s frustrating.  What’s frustrating is although it’s taken, it’s a dead account.  Either never used, or hasn’t been used in months…years even.  You know what’s even more frustrating?  Twitter won’t do anything about it.

Well, that’s not ENTIRELY true.  Twitter will help you if you own the trademark or copyright, but let’s be honest, most of us aren’t shelling out those kinds of dollars either for a blog or small business.  At least not anytime soon.  So what are we small fish to do?  There’s nothing we can do.  Here’s Twitter’s standard response that many have gotten when inquiring about obtaining an inactive username:

If you’re looking to acquire an inactive username for personal use, please check back in a few months. We’re currently unable to accommodate individual requests for inactive usernames. We may release all inactive usernames in the future, but have not yet set a date for doing so.

This has been the response for a few years, so this is obviously not a big enough deal for Twitter to address.  What’s so frustrating is because it’s so incredibly easy for anyone to sign up for Twitter, every stinking name under the sun gets taken regardless of whether it’s ever intended on being used.  Yes, the domain industry is very much the same, but in the domain industry, you at least have the potential to purchase the domain after the fact.  Not the case with Twitter usernames as it goes against their terms of use.

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It can’t be that difficult to create a solution here can it?  I understand that Twitter probably cares more about numbers reflecting # of users vs. actual engagement, but it’s not like they would be relinquishing their subscriber numbers here.  They would just be replacing dead users with potential active ones.

Here’s a few ideas in hopes that Twitter may actually listen:

  • Update your terms that require users to actually USE their accounts or risk losing them.  6 months of no activity, account automatically goes back into circulation.  Case closed.
  • Hell, make a few bucks if you want.  Create a marketplace where users can sell the names and take a cut.  Something, anything to give those that are actually willing to spend a few dollars for the name they want, an option to do so.  Better yet, keep all the money and just charge for official requests for these names.
  • Simply allow users to officially make requests for unused names and give them up if they meet certain criteria.  What’s the harm?

Get on it already Twitter.  You’ve created a valuable social channel, and you have real users that want to use the platform in place of dead accounts.  It’s a win win.

Some active conversations on the issue:

A great free tool to help track when (and if) those Twitter usernames ever get released:

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