Twitter accounts with no activity in recent years should be deleted and reassigned. Elon Musk announced that but left questions unanswered.
Twitter boss Elon Musk has announced that accounts on the platform that have been inactive for years will be removed. This is to make abandoned usernames available again. At the same time, he warned that the move would likely reduce the number of followers on active accounts. He did not answer questions about what happened to the inactive accounts of celebrities – such as that of ex-US President Donald Trump – or to those of the deceased. In a separate tweet, he only assured that the content should be archived. He wrote that in a reply to game developer John Carmack, who felt the announcement even reminded him of the end of the Alexandria library.
For Musk, the announcement is not the first time he has looked at how Twitter should deal with inactive accounts. Just a few years ago, he threatened the US broadcaster NPR that his main account would be closed to “another company” if something wasn’t shared there again soon. Twitter’s in-house rules state that an account is considered “active” if it is logged in at least once a month. However, an archived version of the relevant Twitter help page shows that up until a few weeks ago, a one-time login within six months was still planned here, so the period was probably changed only recently. Considerations on how to deal with the “inactive” accounts of deceased people, were on Twitter years ago.
It is unclear how Twitter plans to archive the tweets from accounts that have not been active for “several years” and at the same time release the account names. It is to be expected that there will be a great deal of interest in well-known or particularly short user names. For example, ex-US President Donald Trump, who was banned from there after the attack on the Capitol, has not tweeted for almost two and a half years. In the meantime, he should be able to post again but hasn’t done so yet. It remains to be seen whether Musk will succeed in getting such accounts to become more active on the platform with the announcement. It is also not possible to foresee how many accounts would be affected by such a step and what consequences this would have for the number of followers of large accounts.
Several media become inactive
The question of account activity came into focus after conflicts between various media outlets and Musk. Twitter had placed NPR and other publicly funded media with the designation as state-controlled media organizations in a row with the Chinese news agency Xinhua or the Kremlin TV station Russia Today. After criticism, the award was changed, but several organizations then stopped their activities completely, including NPR, PBS, and the Canadian broadcaster CBC. Later the label disappeared completely. In an unsolicited email, Musk then asked an NPR reporter if NPR would post again or if the account should be given to another company. There had been heavy criticism of that.