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Israel pays Twitter user six-figure sum for his name

Spaniard Israel Meléndez has sold his @Israel username to the Jewish state for an eye-watering “five zero” sum.

ONE MAN HAS found a way to make money from Twitter – even if the concept is evading the company itself.

Israel Meléndez set up a Twitter account under his first name – @Israel – in 2007. He told Spanish newspaper Público that he had opened the account to escape the attention of an ex-girlfriend who had been following him online.

Meléndez said that he rarely used the account as he soon found it was constantly flooded by anti-Israeli messages. However, recently Meléndez logged in and found a message from the office of Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, asking whether it could buy his username.

Speaking to Público, Meléndez said:

All the business of getting in contact with Twitter was done by them [Israel]. 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.

He said that a sizeable deal was negotiated between himself and 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.

Meléndez, who lives in Miami and runs pornography websites, said that the deal was in US dollars and included “five zeroes”.

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Twitter bars users from selling their names without permission from the site. It states: “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 [a username].”

A similar agreement was hatched between news channel CNN and the holder of the CNNBrk Twitter account last year. However, CNN did not disclose any of the details of the transaction.

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