With Twitter formally rebranding into “X,” it was only a matter of time before the social media platform changed its username to something more fitting. Unsurprisingly, the coveted “@x” handle was already taken.
Shortly after Twitter changed its name, though, Gene X Hwang, co-founder of photo and video studio Orange Photography and the owner then of the “@x” handle, told reporters that no one from X had reached out to him.
“I’m kind of waiting to see what might happen […] And I would be willing to part with the handle if they made an offer for it that made sense,” Hwang told TechCrunch then.
Later, Hwang reported receiving a letter from the company informing him that they had taken over his account.
“The user handle associated with account @x is affiliated with X Corp. Accordingly, your user handle will be changed to a new user handle,” the letter read.
Additionally, the company offered Hwang a “selection of X merch and an exclusive visit to X’s HQ to meet members of our team” instead of financial compensation.
Hwang took to X to react to the news.
Alls well that ends well— x (@x12345678998765) July 26, 2023
The San Francisco-based photographer told TechCrunch that he wasn’t surprised by the turn of events, although he had hoped to get monetary compensation in exchange for the handle.
“It would have been nice for them to compensate for it since it did have a lot of value to me, but things are what they are,” he shared.
Musk turned Twitter into X in hopes of transforming the platform into the “everything app.”
However, the name change has given rise to many legal challenges for the company. According to a report by Reuters, tech giants such as Microsoft, Meta, and others own intellectual rights to the name. Experts say that this could open the Musk-owned company to litigation if it decides to push X into other industries.
“The broader the goods and services with which the company uses the trademark — if, for example, they use it for financial services and retail and entertainment and gaming, as well as a social media platform — the more likely their use could trigger opposition from an owner of another ‘X’ mark,” said Northeastern University Professor Alexandra Roberts who specializes in law and media.