Update: I’m afraid this method doesn’t work any more. The only way to obtain a username that is currently being used is by proving to twitter that you own the copyright or trademark for the name. Details here.
I’m going to do something here which I tend to not normally do and use myself as an example.
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(by the way, if you really don’t want to read the story behind this post then just skip to the “I followed this process” section below)
I signed up to twitter almost two years ago now but that still wasn’t early enough to get my hands on my usual username of choice @zee. This then lead to me using a number of different but highly unsatisfactory alternatives. After checking back relatively frequently, I noticed a name had actually been typed into the twitter.com/zee account page in the ‘name’ field – although the last actual update on the account was months ago. After about 3/4 attempts contacting the account owner via searches on linkedin and facebook, I thought i’d contact Twitter support with the request – unfortunately, no response.
Yesterday, however, a breakthrough. Rochelle on Friendfeed directed me to a Get Satisfaction discussion highlighting exactly how to acquire twitter usernames which had already been snapped up but lay unused.
I followed this process:
- Emailed firstname.lastname@example.org with the following information:
• The username you want
• Your existing username, if you have one
• Whether you want to change your username, or start a new account with the username you’re requesting
- I received confirmation the email had been received a few minutes later, then another email asking me to reply with the above information (if I hadn’t already provided it).
- Literally, an hour later, I had my account switched from @zeedotme to @zee.
Criteria for Reclaiming a Username on Twitter
While the process appears to have been improved, the same criteria allowing someone to gain access to a name seems to remain.
We generally have a 9 month rule; if a profile has been inactive for more than 9 months, we release the user name. In cases where the account has never been updated, Twitter can write the owner of the username about releasing it, but results vary.
Best of luck!
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