Twitter Rebrand Seizes @x Account from Photographer
Elon Musk has taken over the ‘@x’ Twitter handle as part of the social network’s ongoing rebranding. The previous owner of the handle, San Francisco-based photographer Gene X Hwang, was left in the lurch when his account was abruptly taken over by the company.
Hwang, who had registered the ‘@x’ account back in 2007, stated that he had been open to selling the account, he told The Telegraph. However, he was taken aback when he received an email on Tuesday informing him that the company was seizing control of the handle. “They just took it essentially – kinda what I thought might happen,” Hwang told the publication.
Twitter has taken over @X as its official account now
— iPhone in Canada (@iPhoneinCanada) July 26, 2023
In lieu of financial compensation, Hwang was offered X merchandise and a meeting with the company’s management. “They did send an email saying it is the property of ‘x’ essentially,” Hwang shared in an email.
Twitter’s terms of service state that users have no legal rights over their usernames, and accounts can be removed in cases of trademark infringement. However, it remains unclear what trademarks Musk’s X owns, besides the x.com domain name, which now redirects to twitter.com.
Following the takeover, Hwang’s account was moved to a new handle, ‘@x12345678998765’. Despite the unexpected change, Hwang seemed to take it in stride, tweeting, “All’s well that ends well.”
Alls well that ends well
— x (@x12345678998765) July 26, 2023
Before the takeover, Hwang had expressed willingness to sell his handle at the right price. “I would sell if approached I think. Guess it depends on the offer,” he said. Single-letter Twitter accounts, mostly created in the site’s early days, are considered highly valuable. Some have reportedly changed hands for tens of thousands of dollars.
According to X’s username policy on the social network, “attempts to sell, buy or solicit other forms of payment in exchange for usernames are also violations and may result in permanent account suspension.” So Hwang technically wasn’t supposed to be taking offers for his account.
The ‘@x’ account, under Hwang’s management, had nearly 30,000 followers and was set to private. Many single-letter accounts are suspended, possibly due to multiple attempts to hijack them.
Musk’s takeover of the ‘@x’ handle is part of his larger plan to transform Twitter into a “super app” featuring not only social networking and messaging but also payments, banking, and video. His commitment to the rebranding has been so fervent that he even attempted to remove the Twitter sign from the company’s San Francisco headquarters, an effort that was thwarted by police.