Many Donald Trump supporters on Twitter spent Tuesday afternoon unknowingly arguing with a robot.
@Assbott, which mostly tweets about professional wrestling and baseball, was created to immediately reply to Trump’s tweets, then respond with nonsense sentences to any user who interacts with it. But many of the presumptive Republican nominee’s fans didn’t recognize it wasn’t a person and continued fighting with it until they finally abandoned the conversation. About 10 users per hour continued tweeting at @Assbott well into Tuesday night.
@Assbott is the brainchild of a Kentucky man named Forrest, who identifies himself as @Nasboat on Twitter and declined to give his last name.
“The bot is just a mishmash of my tweets. @AwfulJack is the one who started the account. I’m clueless on the technical side,” he told The Daily Beast. “There had been a few other bots made from other users we know and follow, and I thought it was a funny concept and wanted one of my own. I sent him my archive, and he got it up and running.”
@AwfulJack is manned by Jack Kirkland, who is currently unemployed in Indiana and says he created Forrest’s bot because it’s a “good exercise to learn programming.” @Assbott is running “constantly on the Heroku platform and is coded in Ruby,” he said. It uses Markov chains, which string sentences of @Nasboat’s tweets together into one larger whole.
That’s how @Assbott comes up with sentences like this:
“He likes to lick em, he likes to ride hogs, bro, you seem v nice.”
That beauty was in response to a Trump user who tweeted, “Why when he has way more likes and retweets than @HillaryClinton? Huge amount of likes in comparison! Ha!” That user, @Kanam78, appeared unaware she was arguing with a robot.
@Assbott has been around since May 2015, but the real fun started when Kirkland added functionality to it that would respond “Delete your account” to every tweet Trump sent out. Hillary Clinton famously tweeted the phrase at Trump after he criticized President Obama’s endorsement of the presumptive Democratic nominee last week.
Since @Assbott is automated, the entire world sees its reply first, before anyone else’s. @Assbott tweets instantly. So, mere seconds after Trump tweeted a “Thank you to the LGBT community!” on Tuesday, a sea of his fans were trapped in a war of words they could not win with a lifeless clump of code in a computer.
Tuesday afternoon wasn’t the first time this happened with a celebrity.
“Once John Popper from Blues Traveler was arguing with it all night long, which happened within the first six months, I figured anything was possible,” said Forrest.
But wasn’t Forrest a little surprised that an automated version of himself with no scruples or social graces was winning internet arguments with real live humans?
“Not really, because I’ve learned never to underestimate the gullibility or lack of awareness of people online, especially on Twitter,” he said. “Plus, the bot tends to get pretty inflammatory and makes no sense, which I think clearly speaks to the kind of person who supports Trump.”
The best comeback Forrest saw from his robot son on Tuesday afternoon came after someone named Alfredo Perez tweeted back at @Assbott: “Let me correct you: delete your account, Mr. President.”
@Assbott wasted no time, because @Assbott is a robot programmed not to waste time.
“I like bad tweets so I really enjoy your account is bad and your content is shit,” it replied.
“The best ones are where it seems the most sentient,” said Forrest. “It was too perfect. It replies to everything and never shuts up, just like me.”
Asked for comment on the scores of Twitter users who mistook it for a human Tuesday, @Assbott responded immediately:
“Lol yeah. It was witnessed by multiple other wrestlers?”