Let’s say you’re a public official who wants to concoct a secret identity so you may pass among the commons, at least on Twitter, undetected. What’s one to do in choosing that all-important double’s name?
It’s become more than an academic question with the news that Sen. Mitt Romney let slip during a recent profile that he devised a secret Twitter account so he can follow conversations happening on the social media website. “What do they call me, a lurker?” the Utah Republican asked The Atlantic’s McKay Coppins.
After mentioning the exact number of accounts he follows and some of the names of those accounts, Ashley Feinberg over at Slate traced Romney’s burner account to one “Pierre Delecto.”
Public officials looking to lurk through the cesspool that is “online political discourse” need to first create a burner (so named after phones that are tossed after quick usage, making them more difficult for authorities to trace). But what should they call themselves? There’s a delicate dance here. It should be an obscure alias that holds some sort of meaning for the official who doesn’t want to get caught.
For instance, when former FBI Director James Comey wanted to creep on the nternet undetected he chose the nom de tweet “Reinhold Niebuhr,” after the 20th century theologian who spoke about politics and religion. Coincidentally, Feinberg was the one who discovered Comey’s secret identity too.
Then there’s the case of former Rep. Anthony “Carlos Danger” Weiner. The disgraced New York Democrat resigned in 2011 after using his public Twitter account to send a woman a lewd photo of himself in his underwear. But that wasn’t the last we’d hear from Weiner.
During his 2013 comeback run for New York mayor, it came to light that he’d been sexting a young woman while using the alias “Carlos Danger.” (This part isn’t about Twitter, but stay with us.)
In a twisted collision of fate, Weiner would come into Comey’s orbit when Weiner’s laptop was seized to investigate illicit text messages he’d sent to a 15-year old girl. That laptop contained information pertinent to the FBI’s investigation of presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s emails … which prompted Comey to reopen the probe weeks before the election.
So who are some other public figures who may be doing some off the books social media lurking? May we present the HoH “If Only” guide to public officials’ secret social media identities, and how they might have arrived at such fantastical, and hypothetical, accounts:
The daughter and sister of former Baltimore mayors should pick Charm City’s best known fictional leader, Hizzoner Tommy Carcetti from “The Wire.”
Vermont independent Sen. Bernie Sanders
The self-proclaimed “democratic socialist” would go with the anglicized version of the author of “The Communist Manifesto.”
Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren
Anyone who’s followed Warren on the campaign trail knows one thing: she likes to “fight” and considers herself an enemy of Wall Street. Bonus if she is actually a fan of the classic arcade game, but who knows.
Former Vice President Joe Biden
This is Biden’s third time running for president. The first go-round in 1988 ended shortly after it was discovered that he was lifting speech material from British Labour Party leader Neil Kinnock.
New York Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
Bronx native AOC doesn’t shy away from a fight — especially when it hits close to home. In August, the Democrat responded to Barstool founder Dave Portnoy’s threat to fire employees looking to unionize within his New York-based company.
“If you’re a boss tweeting firing threats to employees trying to unionize, you are likely breaking the law &can be sued, in your words, ‘on the spot,’” AOC tweeted.
The tweetstorm caught the attention of the New York Department of Labor. Enter AOC’s secret Twitter persona, Sam Gompers, the founder of the American Federation of Labor.
Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio
The placekicker and leading scorer on Rubio’s beloved 1972 Miami Dolphins, the only team to ever go undefeated.
It all makes us wish President Donald Trump had gone with an alt-Twitter identity. After all, @TheRealOfficialJohnBarron was there for the taking.