It was recently reported that the state of Israel purchased the Twitter username @Israel from a private individual named Israel Meléndez for an undisclosed sum, which by some reports may be as much as six figures. You read that right – the Nation of Israel paid for a Twitter username from some guy that runs a porn site in Miami. He gave the prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu his password, and then they handed him a check.
Since Twitter has a policy against name squatting and selling usernames, you have to wonder what Twitter thinks of this deal. Their policy states “attempts to sell, buy, or solicit other forms of payment in exchange for usernames are also violations and may result in permanent account suspension.” Israel Meléndez says they didn’t violate this clause because he was just relinquishing his own personal account, he didn’t create the account for the purposes of making a profit. Other reports state Twitter actually helped facilitate the sale, but Twitter hasn’t confirmed that.
At KnowEm we have clients inquiring every day about what they can do to get their company’s brand, trademark or username back if it has already been taken on a social network. We always advise them to use the proper channels and contact the website owner to ask about their policy in reclaiming names, which usually requires some lawyers to get involved. The truth is, however, that it can be a very difficult and time-consuming process. And as this story shows us, you might not get the outcome you want.
If the nation of Israel had to pay a six figure sum to reclaim their name on Twitter, what chance do you have of getting your branded username back if it’s already been taken? This is the primary reason a professional service like KnowEm is so valuable for brand and trademark owners who want to be proactive in Social Media. Think of it as brand insurance – no one can steal or squat on your name on the next big social network if you have already registered it.