Whether it’s your Twitter and Instagram handles, your Facebook and LinkedIn usernames, or your Steam and Xbox gamertags, you don’t own any of them.
If you’re using your Twitter or Facebook account to sign up for other online services, then getting banned on Twitter or Facebook means losing access to all of your other services too. Furthermore, these names exist isolated on their respective platforms, so just because you have @thebestname on Instagram, it doesn’t mean you’ll be “thebestname” on LinkedIn. This is why content creators are relying on services like Linktree to help reduce the naming confusion for followers, but even their Linktree names ultimately still belong to Linktree, who by the way, doesn’t actually own their linktr.ee domain name either.
In fact, Linktree is just renting the “linktr” subdomain from the owner of the “.ee” top-level domain (TLD), exactly like how Twitter and Instagram are renting the “twitter” and “instagram” subdomains from the owner of “.com”. Even conglomerates like Facebook can only rent subdomains because in this traditional system, a sole organization called ICANN dictates who can own a TLD. In other words, the entire domain name system is controlled at the very root by a single central organization, who charges a steep $200k+ evaluation fee for new TLD applications.
Handshake names serve as universal usernames you truly own that transcend platform boundaries, so everyone can know with certainty that your username is the same across the web. If you’re thebestname/ on Namer News, then you’re also going to be thebestname/ on handy.wiki and any other platform you’re using Handshake to log into. And if you get banned from one platform, you’ll still own your Handshake name and will have access to your other services just the same. These names can be virtually anything, including short strings like hns/, generic words like handshake/, international names like 握手/, and emojis like 🤝/.
Handshake names are also top-level domains, which means you’d inherently own every subdomain under your TLD — no more renting! For developers, this means access to unlimited free subdomains for every new web project. For marketers, this means the epitome of branding. For entrepreneurs, this means you can create a business selling subdomains on your Handshake names, which can double as usernames for your buyers to use to log into an exclusive platform you own. And for everyone, this means you can set up your home page at home.thebestname/, have linkedin.thebestname/ redirect to your LinkedIn profile, or send and receive emails from email@thebestname/. You can even host your personal website on a dotless domain like http://thebestname/, signifying true ownership over your name on the Internet. Traditional TLDs controlled by ICANN are blacklisted on Handshake for backwards-compatibility, and the names of top Alexa 100k websites are also reserved for their owners to claim.
So how does it work?
Handshake names live on a community-run blockchain that’s owned by no one, which means there isn’t anyone who has the control to take your Handshake name away from you. As is the case with practically any system, you can confirm where true power lies by following the money, and following the money in Handshake will lead you directly to the community. Anyone can participate in Handshake name auctions, and the HNS from winning bids is just burned by the network instead of going to any individual or organization. This reduces the supply of HNS coins, creating a deflationary effect on its price, which benefits every member in the Handshake community. There is no central “Handshake team” or an official “Handshake foundation”, Handshake is purely a community-run ecosystem where anyone can be a “Director of Handshake”.