The man (and the mystery) behind @Horse_ebooks, the popular "spam" Twitter account, turns out to be a guy who works at Buzzfeed who has been using it for self-promotion, performance art, to make money, or all of the above. It was revealed earlier today that on September 24, 2011, Jacob Bakkila "began the conceptual art installation Horse_Ebooks," according to accompanying text for his exhibit currently at the FitzRoy Gallery on Chrystie Street in New York. The announcement of the gallery exhibition and Bakkila's connection to the account, was first made by Susan Orlean in The New Yorker, of all places.
When it started @Horse_Ebooks was not an art project, but an actual spambot operation run by a Russian named Alexey Kouznetsov, as Gawker's Adrian Chen revealed back in 2012. Bakkila had taken over the account from Kouznetsov in 2011, shortly before Chen's story ran, he confirmed to The New York Times's Jenna Wortham. "The idea was to perform as a machine," he told her. But, it's unclear if he initially bought the account as performance art, or just wanted to capitalize on a rising Internet meme.
The Horse_Ebooks exhibit "Bear Sterns Bravo" is a compilation project with the creator of another mysterious Internet meme, the cultish Pronunciation Project YouTube series. That one is run by Thomas Bender, whose identity was also revealed this morning. Neither Bakkila nor Bender intended to end the charade with today's exhibit, according to an unnamed source in The Daily Dot. "The two apparently landed a $40,000 deal to tie the countdown concept to a viral marketing campaign," writes Gaby Dunn. The company who paid for it — which the source did not reveal — pulled out two weeks ago. "Frazzled, the source told me they intended to create a short film in one weekend in a desperate attempt to wrap up Pronunciation Book’s story."