Israeli government buys Twitter account from porn merchant

Posted by Emma Woollacott

The Israeli government has bought the @Israel Twitter account from the owner of a pornographic website.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor told the Jerusalem Post that the department had paid just $3,000 for the account - something of a bargain.

“I won’t go into the details of the negotiations, but originally he asked for a five-digit sum and all we paid him was $3,000, period,” Palmor said.

While cyber-squatting is prohibited under twitter's terms and conditions, the company has allowed the transaction to go through. The negotiations with Twitter were handled by the Israeli government, Melendez said. Rather than directly selling the site, the owner gave the password to the Israeli government, which then closed doewn and reopened the account.

The site wasn't created with the country of Israel in mind. Instead, it was set up back in 2007 by Israel Melendez, the Miami-based owner of a porn website, as an alternative account that would enable him to avoid a troublesome ex-girlfriend.

And he was quite happy to get rid of it: "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 New York Times. Most of these, he said, were from people critical of the Israeli government's treatment of the Palestinian people.

The @Israel account is now up and running as a mouthpiece for the Israeli government. It's a little different from Melendez' greenshines.com Spanish language porn site - although many will find it just as offensive.