Twitter User Sells @Israel Username

Published: September 14th 2010
in Economics » World

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu

A Spanish man has sold his Twitter name, @Israel, to the State of Israel, despite Twitter’s policy of preventing username squatting.


In 2007, Israel Meléndez of Spain set up a Twitter account under his first name. This year, he was approached by the country who shares his first name, with a bid for his username, which, Meléndez told Spain’s Público newspaper, included "five zeroes.”


According to The Guardian, the sale went through despite Twitter's policy of preventing username squatting. In fact, according to Meléndez, who runs adult websites for a living, Twitter itself had advised the Israeli government on how this could be done.


"All the business of getting in contact with Twitter was done by them [Israel]," Meléndez said. "I never saw any emails [between them] and Twitter never contacted me, but if the @Israel account is open and working I imagine it means that Twitter had no problem with the transaction."


Meléndez said he set up the @Israel account after he stopped using another Twitter name to flee the attention of an ex-girlfriend. He said he rarely used the account, which soon became flooded with messages blasting the policies of the Israeli government.


Only recently did Meléndez decide to check it again, and found a message from the office of the Israeli Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, asking whether the name could be bought.


He said he negotiated the deal with the Israeli foreign ministry's Chaim Shacham. "The negotiating lasted for two months but once everything was clear it was all simple. I went to the Israeli consulate in Miami and from there, by telephone, we closed the deal and the transaction."


Twitter explains its rules on selling user names as follows: "Unless you have been specifically permitted to do so in a separate agreement with Twitter, you agree that you will not reproduce, duplicate, copy, sell, trade or resell."

Related articles: (Twitter, Israel, username, Melendez)
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