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Twitter Stopped Letting New Users Pick Their Usernames During Sign-Up Years Ago

Darius Kazemi:

There’s a common belief that Twitter accounts with usernames like @jsmith12345678 must be bots, or trolls, or otherwise nefarious actors.

The thing is, since at least as far back as December 2017, the Twitter signup process has not allowed you to choose your own username! It instead gives you a name based on your first and last name, plus eight numbers on the end. You aren’t prompted to pick a more distinctive username after that, and you can change it but you need to figure out how to do it yourself. (The December 2017 date was confirmed to me privately by someone who works at Twitter Design.)

This means that when you see a reply from someone with a username with a bunch of numbers in it, it’s actually pretty likely that the user is simply someone who joined Twitter after December 2017 and either doesn’t care to change their username, or doesn’t know that they can change it, or doesn’t know how to change it. In other words, it’s probably a user who isn’t very technically savvy.

I learned this a few months ago when I created the @ditheringfm Twitter account. You can still pick your own (available) username on Twitter, but you have to change it in your account settings after starting with a dumb-looking handle you never chose.

Sunday, 6 September 2020