Those who’ve attempted to snag their preferred Twitter handle know what a pain the process can be. Users can squat on an account for years, holding onto handles in spite of long stretches of inactivity. As spotted by a BBC reporter, a new move by the company could help alleviate the situation.
The service confirmed the move in an email to TechCrunch:
As part of our commitment to serve the public conversation, we’re working to clean up inactive accounts to present more accurate, credible information people can trust across Twitter. Part of this effort is encouraging people to actively log-in and use Twitter when they register an account, as stated in our Inactive Accounts Policy. We have begun proactive outreach to many accounts who have not logged into Twitter in over six months to inform them that their accounts may be permanently removed due to prolonged inactivity.
As noted, the service has an inactive account policy in place, though it traditionally hasn’t done much to enforce it. The company encourages users to, at the very least, log in and tweet every six months. Now it’s taking the added measure of reaching out to inactive users, prompting them to log in prior to December 11, or risk being deleted.
As for the timeline of opening up those accounts, Twitter’s not saying. And the fine print on the inactive account policy page still notes that the service does not “generally accept requests for usernames that seem inactive,” short of perceived trademark infringement. A spokesperson noted in an email to TechCrunch that the accounts “may” become available, though the process of removing old accounts will likely take a number of months.
Update: Twitter wrote back to clarify that freeing up handles is a “byproduct” of its work to “present more accurate, credible information,” rather than the primary goal of the move.