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Beloved spambot @horse_ebooks a real person after all

The bookish denizens of Twitter were shocked (shocked, I tell you!) to learn that @horse_ebooks, a beloved spambot account, had been manned by a real human being after all.

The Twitter account was created by a Russian spammer, who set it up to post random phrases along with links to e-books about horses that were for sale. Its postings, which Gawker described as "strangely poetic" when it tracked down the originator, went viral.

More than 200,000 people follow @horse_ebooks, which is celebrated by T-shirts, Tumblrs, and even tattoos. Followers are enchanted by the Zen-like phrases delivered by a robot computer program.

But on Tuesday the New Yorker's Susan Orlean breaks the story -- and is breaking hearts -- with the news that it wasn't a robot serendipitously spooling out phrases like “Who Else Wants To Become A Golf Ball” and “For The Highest Price Possible, No Matter How Much Time You Have Had To Prepare!” -- it was Buzzfeed creative director Jacob Bakkila.

Avid fans of @horse_ebooks may be surprised to learn that Bakkila was in charge of the Twitter account six months before Gawker did a story about its origins. Gawker's report, How I Found the Human Being Behind Horse_ebooks, The Internet's Favorite Spambot, named Russian programmer Alexey Kouznetsov as the account originator, but didn't discover Bakkila's involvement.

Bakkila is appearing Tuesday at a New York gallery in an in-person installation to prove he is both human and behind the @horse_ebooks Twitter account.

Apparently Bakkilais unveiling his true identity so that he can promote another project and put an end to @horse_ebooks. That other project is something he's been working on with Thomas Bender, who runs another faux-robot Twitter account, and who's also appearing at the gallery. It's a choose-your-own-adventure interactive video piece. And they'll probably have a book deal to celebrate it all sometime soon.

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Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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