Jake Bakkila, the artist who revealed himself as the real human behind the widely-beloved "spam" account @Horse_ebooks earlier this week, only to be confronted with accusations that he had manipulated and misled a journalist—to the point of "gaslighting"—who had uncovered a component of his project, says that "[t]he blame is 100% mine, I was wrong, and I'm sorry."
As though the saga of the internet's weirdest hoax wasn't weird enough already: A journalist nows claims she found out the art-pranksters behind YouTube series Pronunciation Book and the fake Twitter spambot Horse_ebooks—only to be lied to, manipulated, and "gaslit" for months by the two men and a circle of mutual friends.
We are a religious nation, even though that religious belief is rapidly fading and notoriously shallow. What we hunger for is real communion with the sacred, the unexpected voice of a mysterious god that occasionally speaks directly to our consciousness, as the old gods spoke to Moses and Mohammad or Achilles and Odysseus. This is why 200,000 people followed Horse_ebooks on Twitter. Horse_ebooks was our inscrutable god speaking in riddles.
Since 2011, the semi-legendary spam Twitter feed "@Horse_ebooks" has been under control of Jacob Bakkila, a Buzzfeed creative strategist who used to tweet under the handle "@agentlebrees."
When I tracked down Alexey Kuznetsov, the reclusive Russian web designer behind the cult favorite Twitter spambot Horse_ebooks, he wouldn't comment on his strange creation, refusing even to speak to me for the article in February. But now he's finally laid claim to Horse_ebooks, in a roundabout way.
Horse_ebooks became a bona fide internet celebrity when organizers of ROFLCON, the premier conference on internet pop culture, asked in January: "Anyone know how we might be able to get in touch with @horse_ebooks?" Horse_ebooks has 40,000 Twitter followers and a wildly passionate fanbase, but you're unlikely to see public appearances any time soon. Because Horse_ebooks is a robot.