R.I.P. @Horse_Ebooks, The Human-Run Twitter Bot That Fooled Us All

@Horse_ebooks, the beloved Twitter account famous for spewing eerily poetic, nonsensical spam, has been run by humans who for years wrote tweets as if they were a bot.

R.I.P. @Horse_Ebooks, The Human-Run Twitter Bot That Fooled Us All

@Horse_ebooks is the Twitter account that, until today, spewed frequent bouts of eerily poetic nonsense to more than 213,000 followers:

@Horse_ebooks was widely believed to be a Twitter bot whose tweets were sent out by a robot that scraped text from obscure parts of the Internet. That is, until barnyard-animal-happy Susan Orlean published a story on the New Yorker‘s website Tuesday morning revealing @Horse_ebooks is, in fact, run by the very human Jacob Bakkila, of BuzzFeed, and Thomas Bender, formerly of Howcast. The pair also ran the popular and similarly spammy YouTube channel Pronunciation Book.

These bots aren’t uncommon to run across on Twitter–several of us at Fast Company have even come across our Twitter bot alter-egos. And there are several spammy Twitter accounts like @RealCarrotFacts and @BurlCoatFactory that are too cohesive to be run by a bot, but remain oddly entertaining. What’s uncanny about Bakkila and Bender’s self-proclaimed “performance art” is how upset many were to find out the bots were actually humans.

Although both @Horse_ebooks and Pronunciation Book are shutting down now that their identities have been revealed, this isn’t the end for Bakkila and Bender–the two have announced a new project called Bear Stearns Bravo, a choose-your-own-adventure interactive video piece.

If you’d like your last fill of both @Horse_ebooks and Pronunciation Book, you can call the creators at (213) 444-0102 to hear them read @Horse_ebook tweets aloud–they’re taking calls until 8 p.m. EST tonight.

[Image: Flickr user ¡Yiyo!]

About the author

Christina is an associate editor at Fast Company, where she writes about technology, social media, and business.



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