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

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. …

  1. aerogems Silver badge
    Pirate

    Sounds like a retroactive method of justifying his seizing Twitter handles, like @e which he stole from someone after taking over Twitter, and I'm sure now that X.org is planning to only use Mastadon he'll happily take that one over too. In typical Twitler fashion, it seems like he didn't really think this through. He just spontaneously thought of the idea after someone suggested it to him, and doing his best Patrick Stewart impression, told the remaining sad sacks at Twitter to "make it so!"

    At the very least, he could offer up a window where people could download a copy of a loved ones tweets without having to pay some stupid API access fee. I just personally can't wait for the day when Twitler joins the ranks of the "dearly" departed. Hopefully all the hair plugs, plastic surgery, and drugs will catch up to him sooner rather than later and some poor sod finds him in a Twitter office, having choked to death on his own vomit in his sleep. A fitting death given he paid $45bn to be queen bitch on his own little mean girls platform.

    1. Omnipresent Bronze badge

      Something tells me he is planning on selling all that data as soon as he has control over it. Maybe even use it to train his own "big lie AI". Funny how he reduced twit to another truther bro site that only the worst of humanity wishes to still part take in after shouting false narratives, and misinformation, about who was "manipulating free speech" with it. Just like a russian. Accuse others of which you are partaking.

      1. steviebuk Silver badge

        "that only the worst of humanity wishes to still part take in"

        Granted, its kinda shit but if you follow only normal accounts its fine. What are normal accounts? These are

        @whs_carpet All about bad carpets in WHSmith stores, their funny sale pricings, old lost historic stores. Someone on YouTube was trying to work out the location of a site from old footage and I asked on there and someone regonised the location, which was lucky as the buildings had been knocked down.

        Then me have

        @rmcretro about Gaming and computer history.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Fun fact!

          I once worked at the WHSmith hq (Swindon) in IT.

        2. Swiss Anton

          I know what you mean, my favourite "was" @WorldBollard. An account dedicated to bollards protecting the world from bad drivers. I say "was", becuase I was recently banned from twitter for reasons that remain obscure. I can't say I mind, I'm glad to be out of the cespit that accounts for 99% of the content that is now current on the site.

    2. anothercynic Silver badge

      I don't like Elmo much either, but dear God, breathe. In, hold, out, in, hold, out. Breathe.

    3. t245t Silver badge
      Holmes

      @e hasn’t Tweeted

      Joined November 2022: @e hasn’t Tweeted

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Phew that's a relief

    All those tweets praising President XYZ,

    All those... moments... will be lost in time,

    Like tears... in... rain.

    Time... to die...

    1. Martin-73 Silver badge

      Re: Phew that's a relief

      Time for Twitter to die... ftfy

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Time for Twitter to die

        Indeed and just as Tuckums has announced that he's bringing his Fox-spews-lies show to the platform now that he's been laid off from Pox News.

        I hope it speeds up the demise of Twitter, Tuckums and naturally, Lord Elon of Musk.

  3. veti Silver badge

    Eliminating thousands of inactive accounts would surely save a bit more juice

    I'm curious - how exactly do you think this will save any resource? Sounds to me more like a technical project that will tie up several skilled staff for, at a minimum, several weeks, plus ongoing work handling the fallout. To say nothing of the inevitable new lawsuits. And once done, how is any operating cost going to go down?

    The only advantage is that presumably lots of cool handles, which were originally snapped up in the early days, can be resold to new suckers. I might even put in a bid for @realDonaldTrump...

    1. heyrick Silver badge

      Just came to post the exact same thing. Surely, at most it'll be a small amount of disc space.

      Seems to me that what Big Twit wants is to lay claim to unused handles in order to recycle them (I can only imagine he has his eyes on one he likes?) and this dumb charade is the constructed excuse for making it happen. But, then, we are talking about the person with the incredibly childish mentality that a poop emoji is a suitable response to being asked actual questions.

      1. Dan 55 Silver badge
        Devil

        Recycling or renting out for only $11/month?

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "Slightly used, some dents on the forward edges"

          If you are interested in grabbing a particular handle of an archived account, will you be able to first inspect the old archived tweets of that account?

          What if you always wanted the handle "threelayercake"? Without being able to check first, you might find the history associated with it more like "threelayerhate".

          Would you buy a used car without checking who's in the trunk?

          1. mark l 2 Silver badge

            Re: "Slightly used, some dents on the forward edges"

            Yeah whos going to risk taking on an old handle if you don't know what was posted by that account before, as there might be still references out there of it being used to tweet offensive posts, pron etc in the past.

            My friend once got a pay and go mobile phone SIM which had clearly been used by an escort agency before the number was abandoned and then reused by the telco. There must have been old ads still online meaning they would get several calls/text a week from punters looking for good time.

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: "Slightly used, some dents on the forward edges"

            @A/C

            Quote "Without being able to check first, you might find the history associated with it more like "threelayerhate".

            I read "Vice"as often as The Reg. So I can assure you it could be worse. Imagine if you are into this and your mates found out.

            https://www.vice.com/en/article/neqd5g/inside-the-sweet-sticky-world-of-cake-sitting-sexrated2018

            I'll stick to eating it. Though calling someone a fucking cakesitter is always good for looking at a confused face with thew mouth uttering the word "what...)

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        "it'll be a small amount of disc space"

        But that avoids buying more disks and, one presumes, the arguments about paying for them.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        the poo emoji makes a sort of sense, it's just musky telling everyone he shit himself again.

    2. JamesTGrant

      Speaking out of near total ignorance… perhaps there’s some indexing overhead that’s reduced if the number of collections in the database is reduced. Even that’s a bit of a stretch though. So yeah, genuinely interested in what resources that cost money would be liberated by removing unused Twitter accounts and their tweets and stats.

    3. lowwall

      I don't think it will take that long. Given Elon's normal quality control standards, he'll grab the first intern (I assume they still have those because they work cheap) who claims to know how to add a JOIN statement to a DELETE query.

      And then everyone will discover that "archived" means sitting on tape that's now in a landfill because no one paid the rent on the storage space.

      1. anothercynic Silver badge

        And then everyone will discover that "archived" means sitting on tape that's now in a landfill because no one paid the rent on the storage space.

        To be honest, that would probably be better than sitting in a bit barn with claims that it was archived/deleted and yet it's still available. At least in landfill it is lost to time and archeology.

        1. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge
          Devil

          It is already stored in a bit barn operated by a 3-letters agency (or several, they don't communicate well)

  4. Matthew "The Worst Writer on the Internet" Saroff

    He won't release them for free

    He wants to take and resell them.

  5. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    "but it's important to free up abandoned handles."

    0h really ?

    Is this an IPv4 issue ?

    Is there a dearth of available handles in twatland ?

    Don't think so.

    This is just another load of bull. Maybe a PR stunt ?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dumb People being dumb together

    Twitter users using unpaid services that believed Twitter when they said it would be free forever, assuming their tweets would last forever, and no one would ever take over accounts, even when the owners died.

    Twitter management pretending that unlimited free eternal storage was a business model. Convincing governments and businesses that that a closed and proprietary platform was the only reasonable solution to timely public outreach

    Governments and the public blindly trusting Twitter when most accounts weren't verified, the ones that were were taken over by attackers, fraudsters, or disgruntled former employees. Building Twitter and Facebook into the new "digital town square" despite both being manifestly untrustworthy.

    I feel the tiniest bit of sympathy for those that revisit the past tweets of a lost loved one. I went through a similar grieving process with an old voicemail from an ex. But if it was important you and you didn't make a effort to preserve it, you lost it by the choice of inaction as much as them taking it from you.

    Not so much sympathy for those that built their own house on the sand. Twitter clearly had holes in it's account policies, and leaving most of the existing twitter handles attached to orphaned accounts dosen't make sense and never did. While this is now obvious in hindsight, it was obvious in foresight to many in the industry. If accurate, short, or legible accounts are desirable, than a service needs a way to reclaim them for old accounts, and a way to manage the fact that customers emails, telephone numbers, and addresses are just as transient, and change on the order of every few years, not on lifetimes.

    Missing those cases was a human mistake for the first generation internet. If you launched after AOL and didn't have it in your stack of use case cards, your excuses probably suck. But most of the industry still is happy to leave sending a password reset link to an email address they validated exactly once 10 years ago as a users only option for account recovery.

    Did I even have a point at this point? Humanity collectively sucks and we might not make it? Dunno.

    Gonna start trying to update servers and hope I don't blow my foot or secure boot up with my warmed over monkey brains.

    1. heyrick Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Dumb People being dumb together

      "Humanity collectively sucks"

      Just come here for a reprieve from the depressing shit that passes for "news" these days and... yeah. I'll drink to that.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    King Chuck

    Does the Great Twit send Charles a poop emoji when he comes asking for his rent?

    I’d like to see that.

  8. ComputerSays_noAbsolutelyNo Silver badge
    Coat

    A racket?

    Now, it's "log in within 30 days, or loose your account"

    Later is will be "Log in daily, or loose your account"

    Then it's "Subscribe, or loose your account"

    ... and finally: "What a nice following you have there, it's would be a shame if anything were to happen to it"

    -> somewhere there are the terms of service, but they keep changing (their location) all the time

    1. snowpages
      Headmaster

      Re: A racket?

      or perhaps "lose your account" unless he is planning a paid-for tightening service :)

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Elon Musk genius, making a million dollar platform, from a billion dollar platform!

    If I can't get an aggregated feed in my favourite RSS reader, or Instant Messenger, I'm not interested..

    This and taking away anonymous access to companies giving status updates on their failing system, is sure to make twitter die faster than a zyrtec.

  10. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge

    Trump?

    When was the last time Trump used Twitter?

    Will his account be archived?

    1. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: Trump?

      I do hope so. With extreme prejudice.

      1. veti Silver badge

        Re: Trump?

        You don't want people to know what Trump promised in 2016? Why, do you want him to get away scot-free?

  11. L-Long

    Old timer task

    Many many years ago this was just a house keeping task to save disc space and reduce the size of data bases to speed up response times.

    Now hardware is cheap and processer speeds are multiples of the 8 bit ones so the focus seems to be, if commentators are to be believed, monetising everything in everyway.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Pity that Mastadon is so fiddly to use.......

    ......otherwise I'd use (and recommend) Mastadon!

    1. Strahd Ivarius Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Pity that Mastadon is so fiddly to use.......

      I don't know about Mastadon, but Mastodon is easy to use

  13. Mike 137 Silver badge

    "Twitter has been restructuring its back end as well"

    Making an arse of that too?

  14. Clarecats
    Boffin

    Deleting dormant accounts

    Just a way of getting rid of bots and fakes.

    Bots, fakes, spam farms, troll farms and follower panels, which comprise about 10% of the web identities and will increase with AI. Some of the followers are paid for monthly, and those might remain active, but the once-off purchases or creations will go.

    Storage space is a concern, not because of cost of storage itself, but because of the energy needed to search, store and re-organise this content on an ongoing basis, and the energy used by search engines trawling through the content on a regular basis. Energy has to be produced and paid for. Energy from renewable sources used to do the tasks is energy not available to replace carbon fuelled energy.

    Twitter is a business built to serve its users (including advertisers). Not someone who thought they might like to use it several years ago but then didn't use it. Telling advertisers they can potentially reach X number of viewers could be dishonest if many viewers never access the account, or just don't exist. Reputable businesses will serve advertisers and users better.

    Statista

    https://www.statista.com/chart/27229/number-of-newly-created-twitter-accounts-almost-tripled-on-the-day-russia-invaded-ukraine/

    https://www.statista.com/statistics/1013474/facebook-fake-account-removal-quarter/

    https://www.statista.com/statistics/1328849/linkedin-number-of-fake-accounts-detected-and-removed/

    1. Orv Silver badge

      Re: Deleting dormant accounts

      This will do nothing for bot accounts, because it's not that hard to program a bot to log in every 30 days. I think this is aimed more at enabling more celebrity impersonation, since a lot of people claimed handles to protect them and then never really used them.

  15. LessWileyCoyote

    Elno sued by Crown shock horror

    [nerd voice] Well, technically... he's not being sued by Chazzer, but by the Crown Estate, which is a quasi-government body set up to make money out of a big parcel of land and buildings & stuff that George III gave to the government, in return for not having to fund the government out of his own pocket. But that doesn't sound as exciting.

  16. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

    Wonder if my account is on the chopping block...

    ... or already deleted. I created it about 15 years ago to see whether I thought there was anything of value in Twitter. I never posted anything, but I followed a few people for a little while via RSS, until Twitter went to OAuth and broke my reader. There was no compelling reason to get things working again,1 and I haven't used my Twitter account since. Don't even recall what my handle was.

    1I keep seeing people in IT security – one of my fields – insisting that Twitter is an important source of information for them, but I've yet to see anything reported elsewhere that made me think "wow, I wish I'd seen this a day earlier on Twitter". Similarly, the various reposts and summaries of Twitter conversations I read in articles always leave me with the impression that seeing them in situ would have added no value whatsoever.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "value", "Twitter" ... both words in the same sentence!!!!!

      @Michael_Wojcik

      Michael: With great respect..........you need to get a life!

    2. tiggity Silver badge

      Re: Wonder if my account is on the chopping block...

      I created an account many, many, years ago as where I worked at the time wanted us to have a work related twitter presence, link to work twitter, retweet, make work related tweets etc.

      Never used it after I left that job.

      A few years after that I got a message saying account would soon be deleted (a few things I could do such as use it again if I wanted to keep it alive), I did not bother keeping it alive!

      So, not the first time Twitter has done this, but my experience was back in the dim dusty past when Twitter was still quite a recent thing (as made obvious by naiveté of workplace at the time wanting employees to have twitter accounts heavily associated with the company, but still in the employees total control, though TBF we all got on well & I only moved on because pay was poor & had family to think of, everything else was great)

  17. IGotOut Silver badge

    Interesting...

    A day after this account, my twitter handle mysteriously had a suspicious login attempt. An account that has been used in about 7 years.

    I've saved him some effort. I logged in and closed the account.

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