Porn site owner sold Twitter user name to Israel for 'thousands of pounds'

Written by: Nairita Das
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London, Sept.15 (ANI): A user of Twitter has sold his username on the micro-blogging website to Israel for thousands of pounds.

Israel Melendez, the owner of a porn site, sold the @Israel username to the Israeli government last month for an undisclosed price that included "five zeroes", The Telegraph reports.

The Spaniard, who is now based in Miami, Florida, created the account for free in 2007, when Twitter was still in its infancy. elendez told Spain's Publico newspaper that he set up the account under his first name to avoid contact with a former girlfriend.

He then approached Israel, firstly as a joke, before they ended up negotiating a sale price. He did not sell it directly, as the company bans the practice. The government was advised by Twitter officials on how to undertake the sale on August 26.

Instead, he allowed the Israelis access to his password before they closed it down and reopened it later with different user details. It allowed the Israeli foreign ministry to change its username @israelMFA account to @Israel. Four days later, Israel sent out a message that read: "The IsraelMFA twitter account name has been changed to @Israel. Look for us here:"

The New York Times quoted Melendez, as saying: "My account was basically unused because I was getting dozens of replies every day from people who thought the account belonged to the state of Israel."

Paul Hirschson, deputy consul general for Israel in Miami, confirmed that Tel Aviv government wanted to obtain the @Israel account.

"Once we decided that we wanted to use the name Israel in our Twitter account we started to look for who had it," the diplomat said.

Hirschson did not disclose the purchase price, but added that it was a "reasonable" sum.

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said the selling price was significantly lower than what was originally asked for.

Israel is expected to use the account as part of its multimedia public relations campaign aimed at improving Israel's damaged image overseas. (ANI)

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