3 Things Twitter Could Do About Inactive Accounts

By | January 16, 2010 at 7:56 pm | One comment | Social Media | Tags: ,

Following the news that Twitter seem to have added email verification to their signup process it’s about time they sorted out the farce that are inactive accounts. There are literally hundres of thousands of accounts out there registered by people who simply have no intention of using and, like domain names, stop ordinary users from getting the name they would really, really like – a true case of “I was here first, so ner ner!”

What Twitter Used To Do

For the last 6 months Twitter it has been documented on most searches on how to recover or re-register that inactive twitter account.  The problem being that the information was incorrect.  It was suggested that you email username@twitter.com with information such as 1) your username, 2) the username you want etc to get that inactive username back.

Twitter has since changed this policy and is currently not allowing ANY inactive usernames to be released.  When you follow the outdated method above (as I did in October 2009) you get this nice response back from Twitter:

Twitter is not currently releasing inactive user names. We’re working on a better long term solution for this, and we should have more news soon.

As of 15th January 2010 this policy is still in place and for many users out there the frustration is still there.

Being one of the many users who missed out on their “ideal” Twitter account when the service first launched I have tried on numerous occasions to get a hold of it.  These have involved:

  • Sending a Direct Message to the user of the Twitter account (to no avail).
  • Attempting to track down the user of that account via other social network sites & search engines using Twitters very own WHOIS Username facility.
  • Checking corresponding domain names in case they own them (would be very likely as I own .com, .co.uk & .net derivatives of the username that I was after).
  • Searching Google for people who have been in a similar situation.
  • Contacting Twitter’s Support service.

All of these methods have proved fruitless and still the Twitter account remains inactive.

What Can Twitter Do To Solve This?

There are 3 simple things that Twitter can do to solve this problem that will cover their own backs AND make their users happy:

  1. Release usernames after a period of Inactivity
    Much like the method used by domain name registrars Twitter could implement a term of inactivity release clause.  This could range from 6-9 months and will safeguard the service from being clogged up from “Twitter Sitters”.
  2. Introduce an inactive claim procedure
    Allow users to request idle and obviously unused Twitter accounts to be released and they receive first pick.  This could involve a step-by-step system of something simple like:
    – Twitter Emailing the user of the account at the registered email address
    – Waiting a period of 30 days
    – Resending a 7 day notice of removal via email
    – Releasing the Twitter Name and notifying the requestee of their success.
  3. Implement a premium service to snap up inactive Twitter accounts
    As with most services there are many ways to monetize your product/website.  By offering a service where you essentially allow users to pay to bypass a procedure such as suggestion #2 (following pre-ordained criteria such as no tweets, no followers etc) not only can Twitter make revenue from their already amazing service, but they can also provide a service to the genuine people who caught the Twitter train way too late.

Brands aside (which Twitter adhere to already (eventually)), I hope Twitter come up with a sufficient, yet simple, solution to this problem for personal users.  Ultimately it has appease both parties involved in a mix up like this and simply allow common sense to take course – They have an account they don’t use, and have no intention of using, yet someone wants to use that account so give it up!

Obviously there will be numerous laws in place in the day and age of “Look at me & I will sue!”, but I just hope they can come up with a fair system to release inactive Twitter accounts and the best I can do is offer them 3 simple solutions.  Over to you Twitter!

About the Author

Kev Strong

Kev Strong is an online marketing consultant at Newcastle Upon Tyne based digital marketing agency, Mediaworks. A lover of all things search and an ex-web developer, Kev Strong (a.k.a Goosh) is a specialist in advanced search engine optimisation.

One Comment

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