Elon Musk says Twitter will free up 1.5 billion inactive accounts soon

“Use it, or lose it,” as the saying goes.
Christopher McFadden

In yet more Twitter news, Elon Musk tweeted today that the platform intends to "start freeing the name space of 1.5 billion accounts," very soon. This will be music to the ears of anyone who hasn't used their Twitter account in years and may or may not have attempted to delete their dormant accounts.

It will also be good news for anyone who wants to join the platform but discovers that the account name they want has already been taken by someone else or by another company.

Moments later, Musk qualified his initial tweet because many of these accounts appear to be "obvious deletions with no tweets and no log-in for years." They are, in other words, clearly dead accounts.

This news should be no surprise to anyone familiar with Twitter's current terms and conditions.

Regarding inactive accounts, Twitter clearly states that "We encourage people to actively log in and use Twitter when they register an account. To keep your account active, be sure to log in at least every 6 months. Accounts may be permanently removed due to prolonged inactivity."

Forewarned is forearmed.

So, how will Twitter determine which accounts to target?

Once again, Twitter has made this crystal clear in its policy on inactive accounts.

"Inactivity is based on logging in. Please note that you may not be able to tell whether an account is currently inactive, as not all signs of account activity are publicly visible," Twitter declares.

If you run a business and have been trying to get a Twitter account that matches your branding, you already have a means of getting your hands on said Twitter handle.

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"If you believe your trademark rights are being infringed and the account seems inactive, please see Twitter's trademark policy for additional information," Twitter explains.

But, for regular users of Twitter, up until Musk's latest tweet, you would have been frustrated before.

"We cannot release inactive usernames at this time. If a username you would like is being used by an account that seems inactive, you should consider selecting an available variation for your use on Twitter. In general, adding numbers, underscores, or abbreviations can help you come up with an available username," explains Twitter in its inactive account policy.

However, Musk's latest tweet appears to open up the possibility that you could get your hands on that Twitter handle you so desire very soon.

How can you delete your Twitter account?

Quite when this mass deletion of old accounts will come into force is currently up for speculation, so if you haven't tweeted or logged in for a while and want to keep your account open, you might want to get online ASAP.

If, however, you are not sure if you want to keep your existing account, you can deactivate it for 30 days.

"Deactivating your Twitter account is the first step to deleting your account permanently. Deactivation lasts 30 days. If you do not access your account within the 30-day deactivation period, your account is deleted and your username will no longer be associated with your account." explains Twitter in its account deactivation/deletion policy.

If you do this, however, be warned that "deactivation begins the process [to delete your Twitter account permanently]. This step initiates a 30-day window that [allows you] to decide if you’d like to reactivate your account.

Deactivating your Twitter account means your username (or “handle”) and [the] public profile will not be viewable on twitter.com, Twitter for iOS, or Twitter for Android," explains Twitter.

For more information on doing this, we recommend reading the policy in full. Else, simply don't use your account, and Twitter will, it seems, delete it anyway.

"Use it, or lose it," as the saying goes.