Imagine if you got a barrage of angry tweets every time a particular celebrity did something stupid.
This happened last week, when the UFC fighter Jon “Bones” Jones was stripped off his title and suspended indefinitely after a colorful few months. He tested positive for cocaine before his last fight, after the results were made public he apologised and went into rehab… for a single night. Then, most recently, he was arrested over an alleged hit-and-run incident.
Understandably, @JonJones on Twitter has been receiving a lot of messages. Unfortunately for fans, their messages didn’t get the intended recipient, because the former champion’s Twitter handle is @JonnyBones.
The Jon Jones who isn’t currently facing a criminal investigation was kind enough to chat to me about his experience in this case of misidentitweet.
Welcome to the Article… JON JONES!
The Jon Jones who controls @JonJones is a “tech geek, art outsourcing manager and cat fancier”, who works for Epic Games. What he isn’t: a former UFC light-heavyweight champion.
When the news of the hit-and-run broke last week, Jones started receiving around 3500 tweets (or at least notifications) per day, with about 5000 tweets in the hours after Bones was stripped of his title. Over the years, Jones reckons he’s received 70,000 tweets – all in three to five day bursts, whenever the other Jon Jones does something newsworthy. As is all too common, many of the tweets haven’t been pretty.
Instead of feeling sorry for himself, or turning off notifications and waiting for the craziness to blow over, Jon engages with almost all the tweets he gets.
To Jon, it’s all a big joke.
It’s absolutely hilarious, and at this point, I love it. It’s like this weird traveling circus that keeps setting up in my front yard by mistake, so I just decide to go with the flow and play a clown for a couple days. I have absolutely no control over when it starts or stops and I never know when it happens, so I just have as much fun as possible with it and enjoy making people laugh.
It’s not just random people tagging Jon: industry publications like Sherdog.com have even made the same mistake.
Running With It
To keep it fun, Jon has set some strict rules for himself.
1) I will never seek attention myself, so I only respond to what comes to me.
2) I agree to virtually anything anyone asks and see where it takes me.
3) I will never ruin this by trying to make money off of it.
4) I will shut up and disappear the instant people stop finding it funny. I can’t imagine a faster way to kill it than becoming crassly capitalistic and fame-seeking with it.
According to Jon, most people ignore his humorous responses. Those that do reply “almost always laugh and apologize when they realize how silly the whole thing is”. There is also people who get more passionate about the situation: some love it while others, as is the norm on the Internet, get irrationally angry.
The people who love it have gone so far as to create a Good Guy Jon Jones Meme, while the people who hate it accuse him of having stolen the @JonJones handle and demand he give it to the fighter, who has only ever ignored the issue.
Jones got more publicity than usual this past week. Big MMA news organisations, like MMAjunkie Radio, have been interviewing him, and he’s now a talking point among fight fans. Jones will keep running with it, saying yes to almost any request he gets and having as much fun as he can.
Then, after a few weeks, his life will go back to normal.
Other Cases of Misidentitweet
Jon Jones isn’t the only case of misidentitweet. Tested.com publisher Will Smith — who produces one of my favorite YouTube shows — has the @WillSmith Twitter account. While Tested’s Will Smith is pretty popular in his own right, it’s probably safe to say that the actor Will Smith is slightly better known.
Unlike Jon, Will doesn’t engage all that often. Instead, he uses Tweetbot to filter out the bulk of the messages. Given how famous the actor is, this is pretty understandable.
One of Twitter’s earliest users, Justin Williams, uses the handle @justin. Unfortunately for him, millennials aren’t the most thoughtful Twitter users – and many of Justin Bieber’s fans tweet to “@justin bieber” instead of to the correct “@justinbieber”. As you can imagine, this leads to a ridiculous amount of messages every day.
Like Will, Justin appears to be ignoring the fans of his doppeltweeter. His account is now private in a bid, I suspect, to manage the Belieber onslaught.
@EdwardSnowden is a sports fan from the UK. What he isn’t: an NSA whistleblower, although he is often mistaken for one online. Like Jon, Edward seems to find the whole deal hilarious and engages with some of the tweets, although no where near as many.
Look Before You Tweet
Before Twitter became the popular social media site we love today, it was mainly a service for geeks. Many user names were locked down in the early few years by early adopter, some who share a name with a celebrity. While Jon “Bones” Jones is a lot more famous than the other Jon Jones, the fighter joined Twitter two years later than the game designer.
Just because someone is famous, it’s no reason to assume they control every instance of their name online. If you’re going to tweet to a celebrity, have a look and make sure you’re using the right handle – or you might be chatting to an English sports fan rather than one of the most divisive figures of the last decade.
Have you seen any other cases of misidentitweet? Let me know in the comments.