The owner of the @x Twitter handle confirmed that the company, now known as X, took over his account without warning or financial compensation, telling him the handle is a property of X. The handle had previously belonged to Gene X Hwang of the corporate photography and videography studio Orange Photography. In a letter, the company formerly known as Twitter thanked Hwang for his loyalty and offered him a selection of X merchandise and a tour of X’s HQ, as a “reflection of our appreciation.”
The @x handle mishandling was only one of the many haphazard steps involved in the rebranding of Twitter to X, owner Elon Musk’s favorite letter. According to reports, Twitter didn’t secure the intellectual property rights to the “X” brand, as Microsoft, Meta, and others have claims to various “X” trademarks. It also didn’t get permission from the city to remove the Twitter signage on the building, forcing police to stop the work. It didn’t fully update its website and app, which though now sporting an “X” still implored users to “search Twitter” or push a button to “Tweet.”
And it didn’t reach out in advance to secure the @x Twitter handle for itself, as TechCrunch recently learned.
As a result, Twitter’s account was renamed “X” but the handle, until today, still read “@Twitter.”
Hwang was surprised that the company hadn’t reached out to him about the @x account he owned, given the corporate rebranding, but said he would be open to a discussion with the company if they wanted the handle for themselves. Typically, compensation for in-demand online usernames ranges in the thousands of dollars when sold on secondary marketplaces. But Hwang was not offered financial compensation, as it turns out — he just had the handle taken from him.
Hwang tells us X sent him a letter that essentially stated the @x account is affiliated with X Corp., so he would be assigned a new handle. The company said all his data, including his followers and following data, would be transferred to his new handle. He could also reply to the email to let X know what handle he would like instead. To thank him, the company offered merch and an HQ tour, if he wanted to meet members of the X team.
“I did always feel like this was something that could happen,” Hwang tells TechCrunch. He said he’s fine with how it played out, hence the tweet.
“It would have been nice for them to compensate for it since it did have a lot of value to me, but things are what they are,” he laments. “Maybe I should ask for the bird from the sign since they were dismantling that yesterday too,” Hwang joked.
The former owner of @x seems to have a good sense of humor about losing a rare and valuable online username, but then again, Twitter isn’t what it used to be. Literally. The value of having a one-letter username on X is questionable, given the company’s future itself remains in question after the destruction of potentially billions of dollars of brand value.
At this point, it’s sort of humorous that Musk bought Twitter in the first place, given that he fired the majority of the team, revamped the product, shut down numerous Twitter features, and then renamed the company itself. What exactly did he want to buy then? Just the infrastructure and a way to reach his fans, apparently.