Musk decides to bury dead Twitter accounts, warns users follower counts could sink

Why do this? Freeing up abandoned handles is 'important'

Twitter will begin purging inactive accounts, owner Elon Musk has said, but the specifics are anyone's guess.

Musk tweeted on Monday that Twitter was going to start "purging accounts that have no activity at all for several years," and warned users they're likely to see a decrease in follower count as a result of the move.

When pressed on the issue, Musk said old accounts would be archived, "but it's important to free up abandoned handles." No other details – like when the purge would begin, what the inactivity cutoff is or whether holders of "purged" accounts could get them back – were mentioned.

Musk said accounts would be archived in response to id Software founder John Carmack, who expressed concern that purging accounts, and by extension all the historic tweets they made, would be a mistake.

However "archiving" of old Twitter accounts wasn't made clear either. Under Twitter's current inactive account policy, accounts are considered inactive after 30 days of not logging in; prolonged inactivity, per the policy, can lead to account deletion.

Twitter's inactivity policy states that inactive usernames can't be released, so Musk is likely planning a change there. What happens to an account once it's archived, which under the new order would somehow free the username too, is a mystery.

Several Twitter users responded to Musk to express opposition to the move because they regularly visited the account of deceased loved ones, and archiving under the new policy doesn't explain what will happen to those profiles.

We contacted Twitter to ask if archived profiles would be discoverable or visitable on the platform after the purge and other questions but got the usual poop emoji.

Another cost cutter?

While Twitter CEO and billionaire owner Musk may claim his latest investment is close to breaking even, it has come at quite the cost. 

Musk took out tens of billions of dollars in loans to buy the site, and is paying hundreds of millions of dollars in interest payments for the privilege. To counteract the fact the not exactly profitable site has dived into the red, there have been several rounds of layoffs, leading to Twitter's pre-Musk headcount of around 7,500 shrinking to, at latest estimates, around 1,000 people.

Twitter's legal troubles keep piling up as well, most recently when ex-CEO Parag Agrawal and two other former Twitter leaders filed a lawsuit claiming the company owed them more than $1 million in unpaid legal bills. 

Other Twitter lawsuits include the company being sued by multiple landlords (including the British Crown) over unpaid rent in its headquarters, and unpaid bills from consultants and other vendors.

Twitter has been restructuring its back end as well, leading to outages from server switchovers and datacenter migrations to shrink the company's technical footprint. Eliminating thousands of inactive accounts would surely save a bit more juice – anything to help that bottom line. ®

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