Twitter is considering selling user names as a way to generate new revenue, according to a new report from The New York Times. The report comes as the micro-blogging platform’s owner, Elon Musk, has been looking for new ways to generate more revenue for the company.
The report said engineers at the company have considered organising online auctions where people can bid for user names, also known as handles. The potential new revenue stream has been discussed since at least December.
The contours of this idea are still sketchy and remains to be seen if it will affect all user names or only some of them.
Last month, Musk said in a tweet that Twitter would soon start freeing up 1.5 billion user names, noting that inactive accounts would be deleted. After acquiring the social network in October, Musk signaled in a tweet reply that he was interested in freeing up accounts with desired user names. Twitter’s user name squatting policy does not allow the buying and selling of user names.
Since Musk’s $44-billion takeover of Twitter, the billionaire has been trying to find ways to boost the company’s revenue amid a downturn in ad revenue. Reports suggest that since the start of Musk’s Twitter ownership, many advertisers left the platform and the company has been cutting down its internal revenue projections.
The report comes as popular messaging app Telegram announced in October 2022 that it will hold an auction for user names, for both individual accounts and channels, through a marketplace built on top of the TON blockchain.
Meanwhile, Twitter Inc said on Wednesday that there was no evidence that data recently being sold online was obtained by exploiting a vulnerability in the company's systems.
Twitter said the data of 5.4 million of the accounts had been compromised by a bug it discovered early last year, which it previously fixed and disclosed over the summer.
Another 600 million pieces of user data "could not be correlated with the previously reported incident, nor with any new incident," Twitter said in a blog post.
In December, media reports claimed that someone could gain access to over 400 million Twitter-associated user emails and phone numbers, and that the data had been exposed through the same vulnerability discovered in January 2022.
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