Will Twitter Start Charging for Username Ownership?

towerbridge twitter issue

Will the @towerbridge issue cause changes to Twitter?

Back in 2009, Biz Stone suggested to Tech Crunch that his social network Twitter would start charging companies to keep accounts on the site. The reaction to this was one of acceptance – it seemed the only logical way for the notoriously un-business-like Twitter to form a feasible business plan.

However, two years on and rather than charging for corporate accounts, Twitter has remained largely a free service with the most notable addition being the ‘Promoted Tweets’ feature which allows companies to pay to feature in people’s home feeds. So will this morning’s news change things?

Twitter reassigns Tower Bridge account

In what will possibly become one of the social network’s pivotal moments, Twitter has reassigned the account @towerbridge from its original owner Tom Armitage to exhibition company Tower Bridge Exhibitions and Events.

Talking about the reassignment, Tower Bridge Exhibitions and Events told .Net Magazine they requested it “because that’s what we are and that’s what we thought people would search for” – despite the fact that original @towerbridge owner Tom Armitage “didn’t pretend to pass itself off as a trademark, or a registered company, or as anything related to the exhibition that runs within the edifice. If it passed itself of as anything, it was the structure itself” (as cited on .Net Magazine ).

The Monetization of Twitter Usernames?

So how can Twitter users be sure that their Twitter accounts won’t just be ‘reassigned’ to companies who claim they use their trademark? How can they protect their feeds from simply being erased, losing all of their followers and all of the work they had done to grow their account?

The simply answer seems to be: they can’t. For the time being at least, all of our Twitter accounts are quite open to being contended by anyone who feels they have a claim to them.

It seems feasible then to suggest that the social network might start charging companies for their corporate account username – perhaps as a yearly fee. That way, they could protect their name and therefore the work they’ve done on their accounts. But would companies do that? Or is it better to simply set our usernames at something unique to us from the start?

What do you think? How could Twitter have handled this issue better? Who was at fault? Would you pay for a Twitter account? Looking forward to your thoughts in the comments below.

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