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.
So. Much. Tech.
Some of the biggest names in tech are coming to TNW Conference in Amsterdam this May.
(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 email@example.com 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!
Read next: What's the future of live blogging?