@Horse_ebooks has been outed and it’s like seeing your dad in a Santa suit

long live horseebooks even if it catfished us rip

“If something seems too good to be true, it probably is.” Many people are familiar with that expression, but it’s one thing to know it and another to heed it. Which is why the Internet gave a collective yawp of despair after Susan Orlean unveiled a shocking(ish) revelation in the New Yorker: @Horse_ebooks, the beloved surrealist spambot spewing oddly profound nonsense, was not the result of a sublime Internet singularity. No. It was just two freaking Buzzfeed employees. 

Jacob Bakkila and Thomas Bender, the account’s human masterminds, are currently stationed at the Fitzroy Gallery on the Lower East Side, answering questions about the project, which they’ve worked on for four years. They took the account from a Russian e-books seller in 2011. At the exhibit, a sign explains the project, noting “On September 14, 2011, Jacob Bakkila began the conceptual art installation Horse_ebooks. He has since performed, in secret, as a spambot on the social network Twitter, posting a piece of spam roughly every two hours for 742 days. Each spam fragment is a recycled information; an often-incomplete snippet of text drawn from a previously published work, occasionally including a link to a website selling low-quality self-help ebooks.” 

In addition to helming @Horse_ebooks, the men also created YouTube sensation Pronunciation Book, which also spewed strangely compelling and supposedly automated gibber-wisdom. They’re revealing their identities and moving on to the next phase of their art project, an interactive video piece called Bear Sterns Bravo. And since Bakkila and Bender are shifting their focus, this means @Horse_ebooks and Pronunciation Book are dead. 

They tweeted out the address and phone number of the exhibit today.

According to Gawker, Bakkila and two others (including, possibly, Susan Orlean) are answering phones and reading lines aloud from the Twitter account in the back room. When I called, one of the men read out: “There are many different kinds of exercises that fit under the aerobic category.” Not exactly one of the account’s best tweets, though it was interesting to hear the creator read it aloud. 

And while @Horse_ebooks and Pronunciation Book were separately managed projects most of the time, today it became obvious they were related:   

The rococo koans of @Horse_ebooks inspired an enthusiastic fan base, so of course the Internet was perturbed over these revelations.  

 Others saw it coming or were pleased with the reveal: 

Really, this should come as absolutely no surprise. We’ve all seen Catfish. Today we are all Manti T’eo and @Horse_ebooks, our weird oracle Internet lover, has come clean. Things on the Internet that appear to be inexplicably marvelous are rarely so. And even though it was a bummer to learn that Santa Claus wasn’t real and you don’t believe your mom when she insists that there is still such a thing as “the spirit of Christmas,” it’s still super fun to get time off work and drink Egg Nog. So buck up. Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because Everything Happens so much. 

Social Media

No yolk! A photo of an egg has become the most-liked post on Instagram

Until this weekend, the most-liked post on Instagram was of Kylie Jenner's baby daughter, which has around 18 million likes. It's now been knocked off the top spot not by a stunning sunset or even a cute cat, but by an egg.
Social Media

Invite your friends — Facebook Events can now be shared to Stories

Facebook is testing a way to make plans with friends to attend an event -- through Stories. By sharing an event in Facebook Stories, users can message other friends interested in the event to make plans to attend together.
Social Media

A quick swipe will soon let you keep bingeing YouTube on mobile devices

The YouTube mobile app has a new, faster way to browse: Swiping. Once the update rolls out, users can swipe to go to the next (or previous) video in the recommended list, even while viewing in full screen.
Photography

Starting your very own vlog? Here are the best cameras to buy

Any camera that shoots video can be used to vlog, but a few models stand out from the crowd thanks to superior image quality, ergonomics, and usability. When it comes to putting your life on YouTube, here are the best cameras for the job.
Social Media

Twitter extends its new timeline feature to Android users

Twitter users with an Android device can now quickly switch between an algorithm-generated timeline and one that shows the most recent tweets first. The new feature landed for iPhone users last month.
Social Media

YouTube to crack down on dangerous stunts like the ‘Bird Box’ challenge

YouTube already bans content showing dangerous activities, but new rules published by the site go into greater detail regarding potentially harmful challenges and pranks, including certain blindfold- or laundry detergent-based stunts.
Social Media

Nearly 75 percent of U.S. users don’t realize Facebook tracks their interests

Did you know Facebook tracks your interests, including political and multicultural affiliations? According to a recent Pew study, 74 percent of adult users in the U.S. have no idea Facebook keeps a running list of your interests.
Mobile

It’s back! Here’s how to switch to Twitter’s reverse chronological feed

Twitter has finally brought back the reverse chronological feed, allowing you to see your feed based on the newest tweets, rather than using Twitter's algorithm that shows what it thinks you want to see. It's easy to switch.
Social Media

Nearly a million Facebook users followed these fake Russian accounts

Facebook purged two separate groups behind more than 500 fake accounts with Russian ties. One group had ties to Russian news agency Sputnik, while the other had behavior similar to the Internet Research Agency's midterm actions.
Social Media

Twitter suffers privacy scare as bug reveals tweets of protected accounts

If you set your Twitter account to private and you have an Android device, you'd better check your settings now. Twitter says it's just fixed a four-year-old bug that flipped the privacy switch to make the account public.
Web

Switch up your Reddit routine with these interesting, inspiring, and zany subs

So you've just joined the wonderful world of Reddit and want to explore it. With so many subreddits, however, navigating the "front page of the internet" can be daunting. Here are some of the best subreddits to get you started.
Social Media

Spice up your Instagram videos by adding your top tunes to the soundtrack

Have you ever taken a beautiful video, only to have it ruined by some jerk in the background yelling curse words? Here's a list of apps you can use to add your own music to Instagram posts as well as your Story.
Social Media

Here’s how to save someone’s Instagram Story to your phone

Curious about how to save someone's Instagram Story to your phone? Lucky for you, it can be done -- but it does take a few extra steps. Here's what you need to know to save Instagram Stories on both iOS and Android.