Something that has been bothering me in the past few weeks was the rise of "alt" accounts. The first was an alt Badlands national park account, but quickly other twitter accounts popped up. Their similarity being that they stood in opposition to government bodies that would be more tightly regulated in their communication under President Trump.
The flipside of this is that, of course, anyone can create a twitter account and many of the accounts seemed to be doing very little other than taking up space and attention. And, as a supporter of rebellious and resistant action against this president, I was concerned that people who shared my views may getting bad/inaccurate information from accounts that are playing at being more authoritative than they are.
The notable @Roguepotussstaff account has backed off from claiming to be a source of "news" (if it ever could have been) and now considers itself a source of "commentary." If it's an anonymous way for employees to bash on their boss, I guess that's of some value, but it's not exactly Deep Throat, either.
But it got me thinking. Since it's so easy to create twitter accounts, why not have a little fun instead of feeling frustrated? What if a "Rogue account" was actually a robot? Or something similar to the venerable @horse_ebooks account? Something that was somehow significant and weird and unique among rogue accounts?
Thus was born, @POTUS_hugs.
As it turns out, it's REALLY easy. I followed these instructions, and after realizing how bad I am at catching stray spaces or putting double quotes when I needed to do single quotes, the thing was running in a few minutes.
The initial build included only content scraped from @roguepotusstaff. I quickly realized that handing POTUS_hugs only a couple hundred tweets was not going to be enough. You can look back at the earliest stuff (Feb 1) and they read almost like copies of the regular roguepotusstaff tweets. As a digital Geppetto, it was not enough that POTUS_hugs merely parrot, but he needed to speak with some experience. So I had to figure out how to add multiple accounts into one corpus (the collected body of tweets that the bot will cull from to make its own tweets), and I had to be selective in who I picked.
I then tried mixing together roguepotusstaff, Reince Preibus, Edward Snowden, and @utilitylimb for bizarre humor. Priebus was a mistake. His tweets are inane and it seems like 90% of them mention Hillary Clinton. POTUS_hugs just sounded like a conservative pundit. No son of mine would be a beltway pundit.
Another thing was that the funny accounts I tried mixing in generally had larger corpuses than the other accounts, so I tried to balance that out by adding in content from @alt_nasa and @alt_cdc, each of which only have a couple hundred tweets max. Being that @roguepotusstaff seems to spend much of it's time blocking people asking for proof of their identity, it can't hurt to diversify the corpus.
The results, literally, speak for themselves.