Israel Drops Five Figures To Purchase Twitter Handle

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Israel Meléndez, a Spanish citizen of Miami who owns and operates a porn site, set up the Twitter handle @israel back in 2007. According to a report in the New York Times, Meléndez never had time to promote either himself or his business using the service: "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," he told the paper.

When the Israeli Foreign Ministry, which has been trying to improve Israel's global image using various social media tools, came calling, Meléndez answered. The Miami New Times, citing Público, reported that the savvy businessman ended up with a six-figure deal, but an accurate translation of the Spanish-language newspaper, which first broke the story, reveals that Meléndez more likely walked away with five figures. From the Times:

Yigal Palmor, a spokesman for the Israeli Foreign Ministry, confirmed the purchase. He declined to say how much Israel paid, but he said that "it was not pro bono." "We thought we could put it to better use than he did," Mr. Palmor said, adding that the purchase was in line with Israel's recent efforts to expand into social media. Mr. Meléndez, who is Spanish but lives in Miami, said that an agreement had been reached last month in a telephone negotiation that he conducted from the Israeli consulate in Miami. Mr. Meléndez described the sale price as "adequate."

Read more on this story at the Miami New Times, The New York Times, or Público (Spanish).

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Nicholas Jackson is a former associate editor at The Atlantic.

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