Rise of the Twitterbot: A Modern Language App for Good and Evil
Twitter is one of those things that you either get or you don’t. Some see it as a place where everyone spends their time telling people what they’ve eaten for breakfast and others hail it as a great forum for sharing ideas and connecting with people with similar interests. Twitter has been around for nearly seven years now and in that short time has given us a lot of new words. Tweet, retweet, hashtag and more. One of the most fascinating things about Twitter is the way that people use Twitterbots. A Twitterbot is a program that puts out automated tweets; often these come in the form of spam, but many people have been using them in more fun and creative ways.
It can be tough to survive as a Twitterbot, as the risk of having your account suspended is always lurking. Some of the accounts listed below survive to this day and some have failed to survive.
Some bots serve one clear, noble purpose: to correct simple grammatical mistakes. @StealthMountain for example tracks down every “sneak peak” misspelling and tells the perpetrator “I think you mean ‘sneak peek’”. Similarly, @KookyScrit makes sure that everyone knows “weird” is one of the words where “I before E, except after C” doesn’t apply. There have also been bots to correct people’s grammar to British English and @Your_Grammar aims to straighten out your its/it’s, their/there/they’re, your/you’re and of/have mistakes, among others.
Other bots are built for more nefarious purposes. Aside from annoying spambots that everyone hates, there are slightly cleverer ones. It no longer exists, but Twitterbot @Enjoythefilm would tweet people when they mentioned they were watching a movie and ruin it for them by spoiling the plot. Not very nice for the recipients, but I’m sure someone, somewhere was enjoying a healthy dose of schadenfreude.
There are some people out there who only want to use Twitterbots to make the world a better place. Rather than use them for evil, several people have constructed bots that spend all day sending out lovely messages to cheer people up. One of these is @FeelBetterBot which will reply to a tweet saying “I need a hug” with “*hug*” or tell you to “Feel better!” if you’re feeling down and even let you know that “You deserve to love yourself!” @HugsToTheRescue and @Twit_Hugs have also made it their mission to share the love, so let Twitter know if you need a hug and a Twitterbot is sure to come running.
Even bots love poetry. @Pentametron is a very clever bot that finds tweets written in iambic pentameter (that’s the rhythmic pattern Shakespeare wrote much of his work in) and retweets them in rhyming couplets. Another account that’s popular for its poetic tweeting, though it’s not entirely intentional, is @Horse_ebooks. This account was set up to promote the owner’s ebooks (about horses) and tweets random phrases from said books. It has becoming strangely popular for its odd words with next to no context.
What are your favourite funny, friendly, or maybe slightly evil Twitterbots?