It sounds shadier than it is, but the facts are these: The nation of Israel has finally secured the @israel Twitter account from a Spanish citizen living in Miami, a man who also happens to own a porn site.
You might be tempted to pass judgment and assume that the Miamian (excellent demonym, Miami!) is perhaps a savvy web denizen, the type who buys boatloads of domain names, hoping that one day a company will pay for one. But that's not the case at all, and it appears he was just as eager to get rid of the @israel Twitter account as Israel was to get it.
The man's name? Israel Meléndez. Meléndez secured the account back in 2007, apparently not aware that any online mention of the word Israel is likely to create a firestorm, and let the account go fallow as a result. "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," said Meléndez. The New York Times adds that those dozens of replies included "a flood of anti-Semitic or anti-Israel comments."
A spokesman for the Israeli Foreign Ministry confirmed the transaction, and noted that despite his disuse of the account, Meléndez did not let it go for free. The account is part of Israel's recent push into social networking, which includes Prime Minister Netanyahu's recently opened accounts on Facebook, Flickr, Twitter, and YouTube. Israel is eager to shape the conversation about itself, and views the @israel account as a key way to do so.
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