Yes you can change your Twitter ID. Don't.

A while back, Mark Pack wrote a couple of articles noting that if MPs were worried about breaking election campaign rules by running a Twitter account with the letters MP in it, they probably needn’t be. The authorities tended to be ‘sensibly flexible’; and besides, it was dead easy to change your Twitter account name. In the piece which appeared on LibDem Voice, I commented:

But is there a risk that someone grabs your temporarily vacated username? I can’t see anything in the Twitter documentation to suggest there’s a ‘grace period’ between one person giving up a username, and someone else claiming it… as is often the case, say, with domain names.

Funny I should ask. Last week, colourful Conservative MP Nadine Dorries changed her Twitter name to ‘Nadine4MP’, apparently following Tom Harris’s lead. But somebody swiftly jumped in, and bagged the newly vacated NadineDorriesMP identity. Tim Ireland at insists it wasn’t him, and has done some further digging into who it might have been. The account is currently reporting ‘that page doesn’t exist’. Accusations and conspiracy theories are flying.
Yes, if you leave your main MP-labelled account dormant for a few weeks and switch to a new non-MP-labelled account, you’ll lose a good few followers. But to be honest, if they don’t follow you to your new location, they weren’t following you very closely, were they?
Instead, where are we? No1 result from a Google search for ‘nadine dorries twitter’, and in the top 10 for plain ‘nadine dorries’, is the vacated, possibly hijacked, currently defunct @NadineDorriesMP account page. And this on the evening when said Ms Dorries is getting primetime terrestrial TV exposure for an hour.
You have been warned. Again. 🙂

that page doesn’t exist

5 thoughts on “Yes you can change your Twitter ID. Don't.”

  1. Ummm… If you rename your account via the twitter web interface, all of your followers will be switched across. It is a simple matter to then register your old name as a new account (it will have zero followers). Switching back involves a little three way shuffle (rename the zero follower account you want to switch back to, then rename your main account back). Super simple.

  2. Fair point. If you’re likely to attract online critics, two browser windows and two accounts makes sense for the swap – change your actual account’s name and near simultaneously change a spare dummy account to the name you are switching your actual account from.

  3. Exactly the way to do it. I did it when I moved from being @bmje (which I still use for tweeting from events) to @BenjaminEllis and have done the same for a few corporate accounts, with no problems.

  4. Surely the best bet is to not have MP in any of your usernames for things like this in the first place? Especially so for domain names of MPs’ websites…

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