“Real Human Praise (@RealHumanPraise)” by Rob Dubbin and Leonard Richardson

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 Real Human Praise Tweets Following  Followers 164K 0  14.7K Real Human Praise @RealHumanPraise  Legitimate reviews from 100% people, every two minutes.  Scott McNally Lee Skallerup BestOf TheBots Bot Bot  Followed by Scott McNally, Lee Skallerup, BestOf TheBots and Bot Bot.      Real Human Praise ‏@RealHumanPraise 40s      As much as it is a comedy in the classic Tracy/Hepburn mold, "Huckabee" is very much a drama of the moment. #PraiseFOX     Details     Real Human Praise ‏@RealHumanPraise 2m      Smith's best comedy. #PraiseFOX     Details
Open “Real Human Praise (@RealHumanPraise)” by Rob Dubbin and Leonard Richardson

This bot takes Tweet-sized snippets of text from movie reviews aggregated in Rotten Tomatoes, identifies nouns in the subject position, and replaces those with the names of right-wing pundits who appear regularly on the Fox News Channel, attaching the ironically intended hashtag #PraiseFOX. The bot was created essentially as joke for the politically charged comedy show The Colbert Report, as a reaction to the news that right-wing media had staff dedicated to refuting anything threatening to their ideological point of view, as explained by Stephen Colbert in the clip below.

Depending on your ideological leanings and whether you’re aware of the joke or not, the results are either scathing satirical jokes or oddly inspiring praise for Fox News hosts and pundits. Part of what’s so successful about this output is how well it fits, in part because it’s repurposing the language of film criticism to apply to television, which is at least a materially similar medium. The humor arises from disconnections at different levels– ideological, conceptual, topical, contextual, and generic— to name a few, as can be seen in the examples below.

Examples abound, since the bot offers new examples every two minutes, but you get the idea. Leonard Richardson and Rob Dubbin discuss some of the technical fine tuning that produces such effective results during the Bot Summit (link to video clip). Follow the bot to subscribe to an endless stream of silly political humor that trivializes Fox News pundits by heaping undeserved and absurd praise upon them.

The real attack lurks under the surface of this generator bot and it happens at a level best understood from a Platform Studies perspective because it wields Twitter functionality as a weapon. By attaching the #PraiseFOX hashtag to its frequent tweets, this bot dominates that piece of topical real estate. In other words, people who might want to honestly praise the content produced by the Fox network (beyond the News channel) and unwittingly use that hashtag would have their tweets drowned out by the stream of tweets @RealHumanPraise produces. Conservatives seeking reinforcement of their ideas might search the Twitter stream, encounter some of these tweets (or the hashtag) and may be fooled into thinking the bot is simply aggregating sincere praise for Fox written by humans. This bot performs a kind of Twitter bombing as part of its activist goals, and by creating the #PraiseFOX hashtag rather than colonizing an existing one, doesn’t violate basic Twitter bot etiquette, as posed by Darius Kazemi.

We could say this bot is not quite what Mark Sample calls a “protest bot” because it takes a satirical attitude towards its topic, but it is certainly a “bot of conviction” in the way it carries out its activism on Twitter.

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