‘They just took it..’: Twitter handle @X’s account snatched without being paid

Elon Musk, since his takeover of microblogging giant Twitter, has enforced several changes, for which we are loosing count. Nonetheless, the latest in the list is rebranding the ‘blue bird’ for a ‘white X’. In a rather rushed campaign Elon Musk changed the Twitter logo to an X on a black background on Monday.

The ongoing rebranding made the original @Twitter handle defunct.

Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla, SpaceX and also the owner of Twitter, as part of the rebranding took over the account of one Gene X Hwang, a photographer from San Francisco.

What is noteworthy here is, the Twitter handle @X belong to Hwang for the past 16 years, but Twitter sent him a mail saying it was now their property. “They just took it essentially – kinda what I thought might happen.” Hwang told UK based daily The Telegraph.

Elon Musk did not pay Hwang for taking over his account, the photographer claimed, who was up for selling the handle to the microblogging site.

While, not paying now seems synonymous with Elon Musk and his Twitter activities, this is no surprise that he just took over someone’s account by merely sending them ‘just a mail’.

Gene X Hwang, co-founder of event photo company Orange Photography, said he had been willing to entertain a sale of the @x account, which was registered in 2007, but he simply received an email on Tuesday saying that the account was being taken over by the company.

Hwang said he had been offered some X merchandise and a meeting with the company’s management, but was not offered any financial incentive.

”They did send an email saying it is the property of ‘x’ essentially,” he said. However, no one reached out to him or contacted him regarding the same.

Meanwhile, the company has moved Mr. Hwang’s account to a new handle called “@x12345678998765″. On Wednesday morning, he wrote: “All’s well that ends well.”

Twitter users have no legal rights over their usernames, the company’s terms of service say it will only remove people’s accounts in cases of trademark infringement. Hwang had signed up for the Twitter account in 2007, a year after the platform launched.

While it is unclear what Elon Musk’s X owns, although he does own the x.com domain name, which now directs to twitter.com.

Elon Musk who has a barrage of lawsuits against him and Twitter by ex-employees and current employees alike for lack of payment- whether that is severance or otherwise, did not end up paying Hwang as well.

Elon Musk had bought Twitter for $44 billion after months of negotiation. Notably this purchase also included about $13 billion in debt.

After billionaire Elon Musk acquired Twitter Inc in 2022, the microblogging site on Wednesday was hit with a lawsuit accusing it of refusing to pay at least $500 million in promised severance to thousands of employees who were sacked in the layoff drive, according to a report published by Reuters.

There are also reports that Elon Musk has not paid rent for his Twitter offices.

Earlier in July, Twitter owner and CTO Elon Musk had said that cash flow at the social media company remains negative after a nearly 50% drop in advertising revenue coupled with “heavy debt.”

Earlier reports have stated that Elon Musk’s rebranding of Twitter from the blue bird to the black and white X could also incur lawsuits from Meta and Microsoft as they already have intellectual property rights to the same letter.

Musk is seeking to make X into a “super app” that features not only Twitter’s existing social networking and messaging features but also payments and banking as well as video.


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