Thursday, 16 September 2010

israel buys twitter ID cheap and acquires thousands of porn-loving followers

Israel has acquired the @israel twitter ID from a man named Israel described as a porn peddler. But despite claims of a six figure purchase price, the buyers say they got a bargain.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor told The Jerusalem Post the selling price was significantly lower than that originally asked by its owner, Miami-based Spanish citizen Israel Melendez, who runs a porn Website. "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," Palmor said. The British Guardian went so far as to claim that Israel had agreed to a six-digit price tag.

According to media outlets, Melendez opened the Twitter ID in 2007 but soon discovered he was often harassed by other users who thought it belonged to the Israeli government. Melendez freed the account on August 26th of this year, at an agreed time, so that Israeli officials could simultaneously take control of it.

Chaim Shacham, the man in charge of the social media department at the Israeli Foreign Ministry which now handles the @Israel Twitter account, believes the price was a bargain. "Within hours we got thousands of new users," he said. "Not only does it give the ultimate in twitter recognition, but everything with the word Israel is brought up when users search the site." Of course, some of the accounts followers may be disappointed that the site's links show people with their clothes on.

Born in Chicago and a member of Israel's diplomatic corps since 1986, 49-year-old Shacham has been involved with Israel's advocacy efforts on the Web since the early days. "In 1994 I had the pleasure of getting, but since then the domain names were all taken," he recalled. As the head of the social media department with 10 employees beneath him, he doesn't feel Israel is lagging behind.

"It's a double edged sword," Shacham said. "When you have a government speaking in one voice it can create clarity. With Western governments there are always voices which support and those who object. However, one thing the Web is susceptible to is the manipulation, especially with visual material. I think Israel has to work better with visuals. The logicals are getting out, but we need to get better visuals out, too."

Some Shacham's new followers might have some suggestions for him. Heck, we've got some suggestions.

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