Social network Twitter, recently rebranded as X, has commandeered the handle @music from an open-source software developer who told CNBC he created the account in 2007, and had built a community of around half a million followers there.
While Elon Musk-led X gave Jeremy Vaught no choice but to surrender the desirable username on its platform, he was offered the option to choose from a list of other handles related to the topic of music. His X-assigned account — @musicfan — is not to his liking but he’s settling for it for now. X ported his followers over to the new account at least, he said.
The move on the part of the social media company raises questions about the worth of a handle on its platform. X terms of service, last updated in May, say, "We may also remove or refuse to distribute any Content on the Services, limit distribution or visibility of any Content on the service, suspend or terminate users, and reclaim usernames without liability to you."
The threat of losing a handle may make it hard for creators to trust the platform enough to build there long-term, Vaught said.
While he had not monetized his @music account, Vaught sometimes took the opportunity to review consumer hardware, mostly from the makers of headphones, ear buds and other accessories seeking his opinion, given his status as a social media influencer.
Many years ago, Vaught worried whether Twitter’s prior management would try to take over his handle. However, before Musk had acquired and appointed himself to the C-suite there, Twitter decided to leave @music alone and established its own @twittermusic brand instead.
It’s not clear what X plans to do with the @music account now. On Thursday, the company posted a photo of the musician Ed Sheeran there, holding a copy of his 2014 album "x" which is pronounced "multiply." Representatives for Sheeran, X, and Musk did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Vaught said he has previously invested in another Musk-led company, electric vehicle maker Tesla, though he holds no shares currently. He has also paid a $100 refundable fee to reserve a Tesla Cybertruck, the company’s trapezoidal pickup truck for which Tesla has yet to disclose final specs and pricing.
Vaught said he is still using X, though he did set up a new account on Meta’s text-based competitor Threads, and another on Mastodon.
"The software development community is active on Twitter to this day," Vaught said. "So for that reason alone it’s still the most interesting social that I have."
Vaught was disappointed that X would take over a handle from a user who invested 16 years into its platform with nothing but impersonal correspondence, more akin to a technical support help ticket.
"I was definitely proud of having built @music to a half a million followers give or take," he added. "And I’m a software developer. I had been thinking about what I could build around this to potentially capitalize on my audience."
When Twitter rebranded to X abruptly last month, it took over the handle of another long-time user who had the name @X on the platform, raising questions about intellectual property, and users’ rights on social media.
When X notified Vaught that he would have to give up his username, it assigned him the handle @musicfan, and offered a list of other suggested handles he could choose from. Looking through those, he said he felt uneasy.
He discovered that @musicfan had been created in 2011, according to the site. Vaught said he hopes that X hasn’t taken something away from another user to give to him, but he couldn’t get a definitive answer from Musk’s social media company either.
"The whole thing is just skeezy," he said.