BY Michael Grothaus 2 MINUTE READ

Like many social media platforms, Twitter has a fairly large number of user accounts whose owners are no longer active on the service—and haven’t been in a long time. While these abandoned accounts don’t affect the average Twitter user, they do prevent users from signing up for Twitter handles that may have long been taken but not actively used.

That’s one of the reasons why Twitter has announced a cull of inactive accounts starting next month. But as the BBC reports, other reasons Twitter gives for its upcoming cull include that fact that inactive account holders are unable to agree to Twitter’s new privacy policies, and that by removing inactive accounts, the follower numbers of active Twitter accounts would better reflect the reality of just how many people are actually subscribed to their accounts.

Worried that your account may be culled? Here are five things you need to know.

1. The cull will begin on December 11. If you haven’t logged in to your Twitter account at least once in the six months prior to that, your inactive account will be culled.
2. The usernames (also known as Twitter handles) of culled accounts will then be made available to other people to register as their own. The handles of culled inactive accounts will not be available right away on December 11, however. Twitter says the handles will gradually become available for new users to register them.This likely means over a period of many months.
3. You don’t need to be actively tweeting from an account to save it. However, you must have logged in to the account at least once in the last six months to keep it active. As The Verge reports, Twitter is sending emails to users whose accounts are marked for the chopping block. Those emails read:To continue using Twitter, you’ll need to agree to the current Terms, Privacy Policy, and Cookie Use. This not only lets you make the best decisions about the information that you share with us, it also allows you to keep using your Twitter account. But first, you need to log in and follow the on-screen prompts before Dec. 11, 2019, otherwise your account will be removed from Twitter.
4. The accounts of deceased users will also be culled. This means that if your loved one passed away and you don’t want their tweets and account deleted, you must log in to the account to keep it active. As a Twitter spokesperson told The Verge, the company does “not currently have a way to memorialize someone’s Twitter account once they have passed on, but the team is thinking about ways to do this.”
5. If you’re giddy with excitement that a Twitter handle you’ve long coveted might soon be up for grabs, keep your expectations in check. Tons of people are going to be vying for the best Twitter handles that are going to be available again as a result of this culling. Many people will probably use bots or software to try to get their dream handle. What we’re saying is, you’re going to have a lot of competition.

Article originally appeared on