Trump election: The other Mike Pence

By David Molloy
BBC News

Image source, AP
Image caption,
The other Mike Pence (not pictured) has very different views

Mike Pence has been tweeting a lot of criticism of Donald Trump. Not Mike Pence, the vice-president-in-waiting - but the owner of the name on Twitter.

The @mikepence account is owned by a 49-year-old programmer who has little in common with the other Pence or the future president.

Instead, he describes himself as a "software developer, writer, and speaker".

"Not a Christo-fascist politician," he adds.

Image source, @mikepence
Image caption,
Mike Pence's pinned tweet quotes Michael Bolton - not the singer - from the 1999 move Office Space

Twitter's open nature means that usernames are handed out on a first-come, first-served basis. Its rules ban users from pretending to be someone else but that doesn't apply to the real, non-politician Mike Pence - he's just being himself, and has been on Twitter since 2007.

That means the vice-president-elect is left with the less coveted @mike_pence.

Although he has almost 100 times as many followers, lots of tweets intended for him get sent to the other Mike instead - who has used his Twitter account and internet fame to send out strong anti-Trump messages.

Image source, @mikepence

During the election campaign, he referred to Mr Trump as "orange Hitler" while asking people to vote for Hillary Clinton. And after the result, he wished Trump-Pence supporters well with their "fascist paradise".

But even that isn't enough to make people realise he's not the governor of Indiana.

Mr Pence finds himself party to tweets from people he fundamentally disagrees with on the political right, and some unpleasant hatred from those on his own side of the spectrum.

Image source, @mikepence

He told the BBC his namesake was a career politician who had "played to the extreme religious right".

He said he hoped those religious sensibilities would lead to tolerance of others - but he had no plans to pull back on his criticism.

In fact, he's learned to embrace it.

"I am seeing what had been an inconvenience as a sort of calling," he said.

"If Twitter has given me this platform, so be it. I will keep speaking out against what I see as harmful in the way of VP-Pence's policies and decisions as long as I am able."

Image source, @mikepence

Mr Pence isn't the only one with with these issues.

Hillary Clinton, a 26-year-old event management specialist, isn't allowed to use her own name on Facebook - she's limited to just being "Hill Clinton". In response, she's adopted the secretary of state into her online handle, "DJFirstLady".

Mr Pence also has the sympathy of Twitter user @johnlewis - who is not, in fact, a British retail store, despite the thousands of tweets he receives each year when that company releases its Christmas advert.

Image source, @johnlewis

Mike Pence may not own his own name on Twitter but his running mate and future President, Donald Trump, also tweets from a lengthier name - @realDonaldTrump.

The holder of the shorter "@donaldtrump" had never tweeted from the account before the election campaign.

But it now seems that the Trump team may have control: the account redirects users to the "real" account and his official website.

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