Sign up FAST! Login

Meet the Spanish shoeshine guy who secretly guards Twitter’s greatest real estate

Meet the Spanish shoeshine guy who secretly guards Twitter s greatest real estate The Washington Post


See, Castaño isn’t your standard Twitter-handle squatter — one of these obnoxious ne’er-do-wells who nabs big-name accounts just to hold them for ransom or turn them to cheap tourism marketing. Because Twitter allows the first person at an account to claim it (except in case of trademarked names), the site enjoys a thriving underground trade in this type of handle trafficking. A third of all U.S. state names are owned by a travel deal Web site. There have been very public custody battles over usernames like @CNNbrk and @Chase, for Chase Bank. And in 2010, one of Castaño’s countrymen, Israel Meléndez, made a reported six figuresselling @israel to that country’s government.

But Castaño insists he doesn’t play that game — he only registered the accounts to prevent squatters from grabbing them.

“All the content of belongs to Twitter’s owners,” Castaño explained in a tweet. “Who am I to sell little bits of the domain to anyone?”

Stashed in: Twitter!, Identity, History of Tech!, @ev, internet, @dickc

To save this post, select a stash from drop-down menu or type in a new one:

First of all, it's amazing Twitter didn't do more to protect its namespace.

Second, what's wrong with Japan that they still haven't taken the @Japan handle?

“Today @Canada belongs to the Canadians, @RiodeJaniero belongs to the Brazilians, Rome belongs to the Romans,” a satisfied Castaño said. “Only Japan remains; for the Japanese.”

I asked Castaño what he plans to do once @japan has been claimed; it will, after all, represent the end of a project he’s labored at for years. He will probably still shine shoes Café Central. He jokes that he’ll “flirt from behind his glasses” — like a retiree with nothing else to do.

You May Also Like: