Ever since Elon Musk took over Twitter in late 2022, debates on the internet just haven't felt the same.
Perhaps it's better to say that debates on the internet have in fact been the same; they're just 10 times feistier now.
Musk's mere presence at the helm of Twitter has been enough to make some users quit the service altogether. But things have gotten yet more toxic ever since the Tesla TSLA boss laid off well over half of Twitter employees in November and promptly began banning journalists on the platform (though they were later reinstated).
Elon Is No Stranger to Controversy...or Profit Loss
Now that it's a private company, it's tough to tell just how much Twitter is -- or isn't -- worth. Elon bought the now-private company for $44 billion in 2022. Although there isn't an official consensus on Twitter's market cap, some estimate it's dropped significantly in value following reports that it's lost 50% of its ad volume (where most of its revenue stems from) since Elon's takeover.
On Jan. 11, The New York Times reported that Elon Musk is bringing a new debate to center stage. And if you guessed both he and his company are in the middle of it, then you'd be dead on.
What Is Twitter Doing Now?
Partly through the Times, and in part from Musk's own Tweets, news broke Jan. 11 that Musk may begin selling high-value Twitter usernames via auction as a way to shore up profits (read: stop the torrent of losses).
It's estimated there are 1.5 billion inactive users on Twitter, so selling what may be some sought-after usernames in that batch may be a good way to keep the lights on. Elon hinted at as much in December.
"Freeing" is a funny way of putting it, considering some of these usernames will probably come at hefty price tags. But we can appreciate a bit of irony in any situation.
The sales are expected to be auction-style, allowing Twitter to make significant profits on any highly-desirable names/handles that become available.
Musk also sent out a memo to staffers about internal concerns. According to the Times, Musk "emailed Twitter employees saying he was available for meetings after finishing 'most of my Tesla work.' He reminded them that he must approve all product design and engineering changes “no matter how small.'”
Basically, that's Musk trying to show Tesla shareholders that he's not ignoring the company while still maintaining control over Twitter.
Right now it seems like the auction will only apply to inactive usernames, but as is the case with so much at Twitter, that may be subject to change.