It’s a Matter of Time Before Twitter Auctions Off All of the Valuable Inactive User Names

Nov 30 2011

Let’s face it.  The hundreds of millions of people coming to the Internet are taking up emails, screen names, and domains.  Think how hard it is now to get a Twitter account name that you want and the site just started a few years ago.  If you are opening a new gmail account chances are you’re gonna get something like [email protected]   The requests at Twitter have become so overbearing that they very infrequently turn over any names unless their is a blatant trademark infringement. But the rule stands the same.  It is against the Terms of Service to sell a name and while they frown upon selling, there haven’t been many cases other than trademark based, of Twitter taking away names.

Despite the rule against selling handles but we all know it happens every day “underground”.  It’s as simple as selling a fake company or your website that includes the twitter name. There is no doubt in my mind that Twitter knows it’s sitting on millions of dollars of dusty names and in my opinion, will start auctioning off unused account names just like Godaddy.  They even state that in their response emails when you try and claim an unused name.  “We’re currently unable to accommodate individual requests for inactive or suspended usernames. We may release all inactive and/or suspended usernames in the future, but have not yet set a date for doing so”  Ie  “We will have auctions down the road”.

So that leads to this.  If I am willing to pay for a better user name, why should I be punished because I started using twitter later than someone else?  With domains, I can buy my way into the name I want.  In this case, the domain owner benefits from getting in early.  In the Twitter case, Twitter keeps all the money.  They could also allow reselling of name but force all sales to be approved by them with a percentage going to Twitter.   I see no negatives in these scenarios and at some point I see Twitter agreeing with me.  Look for the Twitter owned Twitter Name Auction platform in the near future.  If you can’t fight it, monetize it.

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Outsmarting the Dumb, Outworking the Smart

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  1. Louise

    You should still be able to get, “DomainShane” on gmail, twitter, facebook, and Google+ – it’s sort of unique!

  2. CheapdotME

    Quite far fetched IMHO..annoying as it to see thousands “sitting” on quality twitter usernames, you cannot treat Twitter handles the same way you treat domains. We cannot bring the dirty domain speculation on Twitter and make the wonderful social media tool “dirty” 🙂 . I know companies with social media handles that have been unused for years yet value them, so the fact that a handle is “inactive” does not mean the owners do not need them! Twitter does not have a “Whois service” so it’s hard to contact owners of “inactive handles” but that does not mean we should bend the rules….

  3. Joe

    It’s the same with email addresses. They own a huge portfolio of superpremium .com domains, including some of the finest geos around like and, and they offer free email addresses under all of their domains. Imagine someone running a hotel in London who owns [email protected] or a pub in Dublin with [email protected] – it’s the most desirable and “premium” email addresses they could have and they are free!


    I’ve sold a domain…with a bonus on top for the perfect match twitter handle.
    I’ve also sold a domain…but just plain forgot the password to the perfect match
    twitter handle.Can’t win them all 🙂

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