Recently an Indian teenager became the Prime Minister of the world’s largest democracy for half an hour – on Twitter. Nineteen-year-old Qaiser Ali inadvertently found himself amidst a spat between the offices of the outgoing Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the incoming Narendra Modi.
The Twitter account @PMOIndia was created by Manmohan Singh which went on to gain more than a million followers. However, the handle was vacated when the former PM’s account was changed to @PMOIndiaArchive.
In the brief window of about half an hour after the account was vacated, Ali somehow got a hold of it and captured the attention of the country for owning a “national asset”. It was his 15 (or 30 in this case) minutes of fame.
The incident led us to wonder what other coveted Twitter handles are out there, and we found some rather interesting ones.
The most valuable Twitter handles are the shortest. Ranging from @at o @z and from @0 to @9, most of these users have a large number of followers only by virtue of their Twitter handles. How many of us can boast about that? According to The Atlantic, “The average single-letter Twitterer has Tweeted 3,266 times, follows 302 people, and is followed by 2,896.”
These coveted Twitter handles are also financially valuable. Most of these owners also regularly receive lucrative offers in exchange for their account. However, sometimes things get ugly.
Naoki Hiroshima, the owner of the Twitter handle @N, went through hell when a hacker stole his Email and PayPal passwords and held the accounts hostage. As a result, he was forced to forfeit his valuable handle.
In his article, Hiroshima informed the internet, “I had a rare Twitter username, @N. Yep, just one letter. I’ve been offered as much as $50,000 for it. People have tried to steal it. Password reset instructions are a regular sight in my email inbox. As of today, I no longer control @N. I was extorted into giving it up.”
Luckily for him, he regained possession of his account a month later, and the bizarre tale came to a happy ending.
Apparently, the single-digit and single-letter usernames are not the only desirable handles. Josh Bryant, founder of file sharing service Droplr,also claimed to suffer an extortion attack due to his invaluable Twitter handle @jb. We wonder why. Any guesses Justin Bieber fans?
Other than the hackings and the extortions, a black market of Twitter usernames has also propped up. Despite the buying and selling of usernames being frowned upon by Twitter, the company hasn’t been able to do much about it.
So in case you were wondering, how much is your Twitter account worth?