Trump Bannon row: 'Not the Steve Bannon you are looking for'

Steve Bannon Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption This Steve Bannon is executive chairman of Breitbart News

Steve Bannon was not at all surprised by the messages he began receiving on 3 January. After controversial claims by the former chief strategist to US President were published, the predictable social media storm ensued.

However, this Steve Bannon is not the head of right-wing website Breitbart News nor is he the former White House strategist but a father of three from the UK, who happens to have the same name and the Twitter handle @SteveBannon.

As he puts it in his online description he's "nothing to do with US politics or running the White House, etc."

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A heated debate has taken place after extracts from an upcoming book by journalist Michael Wolff, which claims to lift the lid on the Trump administration and extensively quotes Mr Bannon, were released.

The President's lawyers have since served Mr Bannon with a cease-and-desist notice accusing him of defaming the president.

The story has caused a huge reaction on social media. The term 'Steve Bannon' has been used more than 424,000 times on Twitter and 165,000 times in public posts on Facebook since Wednesday.

Mr Bannon received a number of angry messages after the book's extracts hit the headlines.

Many tweets expressed their support for Mr Trump and aggressively accused Mr Bannon of treason, betraying the president, and suggested he ought to leave the country.

However, not all communication was quite so serious. Spotting the mix up, some sent Mr Bannon messages of support or knowingly played along with the confusion.

Steve Bannon is not the first case of mistaken identity on social media.

Accounts belonging to people named Michael Bolton, James Taylor, Joe Hart and Edward Snowden as well as another Trump adviser, George Papadopoulos, have all been the subject of misdirected messages meant for their more well-known namesake.

President Trump directed a message to the wrong Theresa May after the British Prime Minister chastised the President for retweeting videos posted by a far-right group.

Meanwhile, Mr Bannon has been reaching out to others in a similar position. He sent a Happy Christmas message to fellow Twitter user John Lewis - "not a retail store" - who has been mistaken for the UK chain of shops for a number of years.

However, when questioned by some about changing his Twitter handle, Mr Bannon is defiant.