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Her Instagram Handle Was ‘Metaverse.’ Last Month, It Vanished.

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SYDNEY, Australia — In October, Thea-Mai Baumann, an Australian artist and technologist, found herself sitting on prime internet real estate.In 2012, she had started an Instagram account with the handle @metaverse, a name she used in her creative work. On the account, she documented her life in Brisbane, where she studied fine art, and her travels to Shanghai, where she built an augmented reality company called Metaverse Makeovers.She had fewer than 1,000 followers when Facebook, the parent company of Instagram, announced on Oct. 28 that it was changing its name. Henceforth, Facebook would be known as Meta, a reflection of its focus on the metaverse, a virtual world it sees as the future of the internet.In the days before, as word leaked out, Ms. Baumann began receiving messages from strangers offering to buy her Instagram handle. “You are now a milliona …

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