The Great Twitter Handle Robbery

Twitter handles are a big deal. When you start a new business and you’ve got a shiny name in mind, finding out your brand has already been snapped up by an egg that sent one tweet in 2009 can be devastating.

However, one software developer in San Francisco found out that his Twitter handle was more trouble than it was worth

Naoki Hiroshima joined Twitter in the hazy days of 2007 (when no-one really ‘got’ Twitter and denounced it as a flash in the pan) and grabbed the exclusive handle @N.

Single letter Twitter usernames are extremely valuable (well there’s only 26 of them!), and Hiroshima was offered an astonishing $50,000 to sell his handle in 2013. When he refused (why lose all of those followers?), Hiroshima discovered on January 28th that someone hacked his PayPal by posing as an employee and accessed his GoDaddy accounts.

Was the hacker intent on stealing money and sabotaging his websites? Nope, he was essentially holding them ransom in exchange for the @N Twitter handle.

Hiroshima had no choice but to give up the handle, and appealed to Twitter to help him (he also had personal connections to Twitter through the Silicon Valley bubble). On Wednesday February 26th, Hiroshima regained access to @N, sending out the tweet “order has been restored”.

A happy ending to a cautionary tale, but @A, @B, @C and the rest must be quivering in their early adopter boots!