Senator Mitt Romney admitted to using a secret Twitter account to “lurk” on the network and follow political discussions—and occasionally to defend himself.
The former Republican presidential candidate revealed he had a secret Twitter account on Sunday in a profile published by The Atlantic. The 72-year-old senator explained that he uses a secret account and revealed only a few details including the number of people he followed and who some of them are.
“I won’t give you the name of it,” he said of his pseudonymous account, “but I’m following 668 people.” He also mentioned that he follows journalists, a late-night talk show host and professional athletes.
Those details were enough for Slate’s Ashley Feinberg to trace down the account matching his description. “This account joined the site in July of 2011, just one month after Romney announced his run for president. The majority of people it follows are either political reporters, politicians, political operatives, or pundits,” Feinberg explains in her piece.
When Romney was questioned about the account later in the day, he owned up to running it. “C’est moi” (“It’s me”), Romney told The Atlantic only a few hours after the Slate piece was published.
Immediately after Slate published its story, Romney made the Pierre Delecto account private. But before he could do that, Slate had already screen-capped some of the most juicy engagement from the account, which seemed to regularly interact with tweets that were critical of Trump and other Republicans—and to defend Mitt Romney.
“Jennifer, you need to take a breath,” Romney tweeted through his pseudonymous Twitter account to a conservative pundit at the Washington Post who called his strategy “spineless.”
“Maybe you can then acknowledge the people who agree with you in a large measure even if not in every measure,” Romney said.
Romney also reportedly favored several tweets that were aimed at some of his rivals, including one that said: “Hopefully Hillary will inspire a new generation of girls to marry ambitious perverts who will pay off their embarrassment with Senate seats.”
Twitter has long wrestled with its allowance of anonymous profiles and accounts. The company has essentially given a platform to anonymous political trolls, which have become a force in American politics and culture. Facebook, in contrast, has long enforces extremely strict identity policies—including its controversial real name policy that required users to register under their real, legal names. Facebook has since relaxed the policy, but does not allow anonymous accounts to persist to the same degree that Twitter does.