CHICAGO — When WGN anchor Ben Bradley started receiving a flood of messages on social media Wednesday morning, he hoped it was because of something he did, like one of his investigative stories going viral.
But instead he was drawing fire from across the pond, where British Member of Parliament (MP) Ben Bradley was the center of a controversy that was quickly going viral. BuzzFeed reported the young Tory suggested in a now-deleted blog post that unemployed people should have vasectomies, “before we’re drowning in a vast sea of unemployed wasters that we pay to keep!”
The news sparked a firestorm online. And by Thursday morning, “Ben Bradley” was trending on Twitter in the U.K. Except it wasn’t the British MP, but rather one of Chicago’s Very Own.
“Even after I’ve politely explained to people via Twitter that they’ve got the wrong guy, some don’t believe me,” Ben said. (We’ll keep calling him Ben to avoid any further confusion).
While one of Ben’s tweets explaining he’s not a British politician, but rather an anchor based here in Chicago, received over 2,000 likes, comments, and other responses, plenty of trolls and otherwise outraged British folks still haven’t gotten the message.
It’s not Ben’s first experience with mistaken identity, though. He says he’s been confused with legendary Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee in the past.
It could be that American Ben is a victim of his own success. He has more followers than the British politician on both Twitter and Facebook (and the MP is not verified on Facebook), so both serve up his name first when users start typing in their name.
The British MP has since apologized, but people are still upset, and the tweets and Facebook posts continue.
Ben is not alone, though. He says he’s heard from other social media users who mistakenly attract ire online, with names like Steve Bannon, Richard Bone, Tom Bradby and Theresa May.
“What I’ve learned is that Brits are far more creative and colorful with their insults. And no, that’s not a challenge,” Ben said.