Twitter is a weird place. It’s your one-stop shop for political gotchas, racist trolling, news updates and bad jokes (and if you’re Ted Cruz, porn).
It’s also home to Twitterbots, software that controls and regularly tweets (or follows) from Twitter accounts. Depending on their function, they can tweet anything from porn links to fake news. Some are even programmed to reply to specific user tweets. Many bots are easy to spot, with generic profile pictures or giveaway handles like @aCutIT2bRdD7jk3. Usually, accounts are created for these bots to operate from, but regular Twitter users get hacked all the time.
That’s how I became a sex bot.
The transition was quick and painless. I woke up one weekend morning to find that my name was now REBEKAH, my avatar was a sexy bikini woman, and my bio implored people to hit me up for my number. My account—normally full of bad jokes and not-so-clever liberal gotchas—was asking random users if they “HOT SEX NOW!” or to “see my pics ;)” complete with links that gave you a virus by just looking at them.
I quickly deleted the sex-trolling tweets and returned to a (somewhat) respectable version of myself (my new Twitter name is HACKED JOE). I also reset my password and sent a tweet to @TwitterSupport, asking what someone should do if they’d been hacked by a sex bot. They never replied, but I was in the clear.
Until it happened again. And again. And again. My profile was never fully taken over, but my account was following random accounts and tweeting nonsensical replies. Take this gem:
“Ooh”? What about this tweet is suggestive? If anything I should be celebrating this raw application of citizen justice, but no, a winky face is appropriate.
The most entertaining thing about the whole ordeal was seeing how absurd my responses were to actual tweets. Here’s a snap of me laying some fashion smack down:
THAT WRANGLER TEE? GIRL, I CAN’T FATHOM WHY YOU’D WANT THAT PEASANTRY IN YOUR WARDROBE BUT I ALSO KNOW YOU KNOW WHERE TO GET IT. BELIEVE IN YOURSELF. Note: if you’re going to be a little rude, be empowering. Otherwise, you might just get savaged yourself.
This is me, a hacked jerk, poking fun at a dude who tweeted a picture of himself and his girlfriend. The caption reads “I love her too” in Spanish. It’s a sweet moment, an internet declaration of love, and my hacked ass ruined it.
Until @SantiZerpa clapped back.
Despite taking a decade’s worth of Spanish, I’m far from fluent. In fact, I know almost nothing. But I know what this means. It is an unflattering joke, and like many unflattering jokes, it is directed at my mother. And while I hope she is not reading this right now, I believe even she can appreciate the ferocity with which @SantiZerpa defended his love. Upon seeing the reply, I followed him immediately. The Twitter hack had brought me to a place of gratitude. And then, almost immediately, it pulled me back out.
There’s something odd about being hacked on Twitter—you can almost put yourself into the mind of the bot. You start wondering about its programming, why it tweets what it tweets. Soon, you can sense a bit of an overlap. Let it happen enough times, it’s almost as if the bot becomes you.
This tweet spurred a full-on identity crisis. I’ve been all about wings since I learned how to pull the bones apart, but now I was questioning my own convictions. After all, who can deny the appeal of nuggets? They’re small, great for no-mess dipping and come in all shapes and sizes. It’s almost as if the bot combed my subconscious for my deepest uncertainties, found my untapped appreciation of nuggets, and crafted the perfect tweet. So what if it’s in response to an informal French Twitter poll? Some things are deeper than language.
After wallowing in limbo for another hour or so, I set things back to the way they were. No more hacked tweets, no more kiss emojis, no more nugget love. It was time to get on with my Twitter life, but I couldn’t help thinking about it. I changed my name to HACKED JOE as a joke, but maybe after all this, it wasn’t.
In a weird way, I liked watching my hacked Twitter run off in different directions. It was almost cathartic. In some parallel universe, we’re all Twitterbots shooting off HOT SEX tweets and silly replies. Twitter is a microcosm of the internet in that way—we’re all just posting words and symbols out into an ether specially curated to our interests.
Maybe this is exactly what my Twitter account looks like in some deep, untouched recess of my mind. Sure, I tweet the way I do now, but how far away from an emoji-littered subconscious thread am I really?
The next time I’m hacked, maybe some bot will answer that question for me. Or at least get me a couple new followers.