There's a new thing happening on Twitter in which people getting yelled at in quote-tweets are fighting back. We're calling it "nameflaming" and it happens when a person changes their Twitter display name to mock a scoldy quote-tweeter. Here is the nameflame in action:
On Thursday, Chelsea Clinton was nameflamed after she scolded a Twitter user for using a picture of Donald Trump’s 11-year-old son Barron in an apparent joke.
That user, @spookperson, told BuzzFeed News their display name change was “a pretty common” prank on the social network, which introduced the “retweet with comment” feature in April 2015. Asked why they nameflamed Clinton, @spookperson responded, “She retweeted me accusing me of something completely asinine, and well, because it's fun.”
Sean Spicer was nameflamed by @IllegalTroy, who destroyed him in response to a snarky quote-tweet.
The former White House press secretary quote-tweeted @IllegalTroy noting disgraced movie producer Harvey Weinstein has donated money to Democratic politicians. About 10 minutes after Spicer shared his tweet, @IllegalTroy changed his display name to “sean eats turds.”
Spicer has not yet deleted the tweet which still lives on in his feed.
Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the phenomenon from BuzzFeed News.
In August, conservative political commentator Bill Kristol was nameflamed after quote-tweeting a user who shared a Fox News clip that was critical of President Trump. (The Twitter user who captured Kristol's tweet ended up nameflaming BuzzFeed after this story was published.)
Some Twitter users have long pestered the company with requests for a feature that would allow them to edit their tweets. For @spookperson and @IllegalTroy, nameflaming demonstrates why that might be a bad idea. Editing tweets could lead to “trolling, manipulation of news and information, public officials revising earlier statements that would have been public record, etc.,” @spookperson said.
@IllegalTroy expressed similar concerns. “I remember seeing people talking about that idea and someone brought up the possibility of far-right trolls using an edit feature to make normal people look like they're saying things they weren't,” he said.
Clinton, who has more than 2 million followers, clearly wasn’t in on the joke.
“‘Clinton killed Tupac’ a new conspiracy theory I hadn't heard...Thank you for laughter!!” she tweeted to @spookperson, prompting them to change their display name to “CLINTON SHOT BIGGIE.”
When accused by Twitter users of not knowing the difference between Tupac Shakur and The Notorious B.I.G., the former first daughter appeared confused.
Eventually after being nameflamed multiple times, Clinton gave up trying to explain what happened to her followers.
Life lesson: To avoid the nameflame, screenshot everything.
This story has been updated with an example of Sean Hannity being nameflamed as well as details on a Twitter user changing their name to insult BuzzFeed.
Ryan Mac is a senior technology reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in San Francisco. He reports on the intersection of money, technology and power.
Contact Ryan Mac at email@example.com.
Alex Kantrowitz is a senior technology reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in San Francisco. He reports on social and communications.
Contact Alex Kantrowitz at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.