In any normal year, Twitter is a mostly harmless time-suck that keeps users coming back for the occasional update on the news of the day, absurd laughs or a quick hit of adrenaline when a post of your own is well received. This has not been, it is safe to say, a normal year. These days, Twitter is a hollering instrument of pain—a portal into the abyss that has claimed the political and cultural climate like a horrifying fog.
If you’re smart, you can mitigate some of that by muting or blocking as many of the offensive, frightening and existentially devastating accounts as you can, cultivating a friendlier experience. The masochists among us, however, might choose to lean into it instead. This includes the guy behind the account @ShitAccountTour. Now in its fourth year, @ShitAccountTour conducts an annual year-end tournament that ranks the absolute worst of Twitter, bringing them together in a March Madness-esque bracket where followers crown a Shit Account winner (or loser, depending on how you look at it).
Previous years’ winners have been well deserved and include infamous right-wing troll Chuck Johnson, hacky joke account The Tweet of God and Vanity Fair reporter Kurt Eichenwald. While some good accounts typically do make it into the tournament, by and large, it’s a non-partisan exercise comprising accounts from the alt-right, centrists and the libtard left.
Surprisingly, of the dozen account owners I reached out to ask about their inclusion this year, few were willing to talk to me about it. Cassandra Fairbanks, a liberal social media personality turned Donald Trump supporter, took it in stride when I reached out to her a week ago. “I don’t even know what this is or why it matters,” she says. “It’s pretty funny. There is likely no way I can move on to the next region with [Laura] Loomer in the mix. Probably the only award I think she will ever deserve to win.”
She was right: Loomer, a former Project Veritas employee and an alt-right leader, made it to the final round against Mike Cernovich, who essentially shares her credentials. These two finalists beat out @PrisonPlanet, @Stillgray, @LouiseMensch, @SethAbramson and @WhitlockJason.
It’s all a bit goofy, unimportant and at times represents another unfortunate aspect of Twitter; that is, the ease with which large groups can shit-talk any user in an in-crowd game of sport. But ultimately, the yearly tournament exists for good fun, and there’s not much of that to be found on Twitter these days.
To determine what makes for a truly shitty Twitter account in truly shitty times, I spoke to the creator of the tournament who, perhaps unsurprisingly, chooses to remain anonymous. If anyone can teach us to be better people online in 2018, perhaps it is him.
You’ve been doing this for four years. What was the inspiration for it?
It started off as an idea for my circle of about 1,000 followers—mostly shit-posters and jokers. I keep wanting to end it because it takes up time, but it really is fun and the response is the most rewarding part. When this year’s tournament started, in less than 10 hours we had more than 3,000 votes in many of the matchups.
Why do you stay anonymous?
Because I never wanted this to be about me. I don’t need—nor want—e-cred. If the public must know, I work in engineering and my life is pretty normal. I don’t think most people care about who I am in real life, except for some of the shittiest account owners over the years, like Milo Yiannopoulos, who got so mad he threatened to write a "smear article” about me.
Did Yiannopoulos win that year?
He did not. In fact, he was caught trying to rig the competition. Someone alerted me to a direct message where he bragged about wanting to win and recruiting his follows to vote, so we disqualified him. He got extremely upset and threatened me and what not. New York magazine wrote a piece on the incident. I call it “The Milown” because he was exposed as the sniveling narcissistic child he is. Another fantastic reaction was Al Giordano’s meltdown last year. He went off in a 20-tweet rant. Not sure if it still exists, but he opined about being targeted by dudebros and the dirtbag left. Then he blocked us.
You disqualified President Trump. Why?
As first it was fun to watch him be a dipshit [on Twitter], but now it’s sad to see his tweets every morning. What have we become? How did this narcissistic man child become president of the United States? I’m sure guys at the toilet factory in Sheboygan Falls, Wisconsin love his tweets. The reason Trump is not in the tournament is not because he doesn’t have a shitty account. It’s because he would render the tournament worthless. Everyone would vote for him. It would be pointless.
Has Twitter devolved since you started?
It’s clearly gotten worse in the past four years. That’s probably a good thing for this tournament, but it is truly draining to see all these political opinions being thrown around timelines. I got on Twitter five years ago to tweet about sports and fuck with the occasional idiot. I get it: politics is a gong show now, and this site allows the crazy to come out of people with little to no repercussions.
What makes for a truly terrible account?
This is not a right-wing bashing thing. A shitty account has no affiliation. As most can see, there is a political element to the tournament, and this is not an accident.
The winners of the first three SAT’s were, in order, Chuck C. Johnson, the racist right wing guy who shit on the floor allegedly while attending Claremont McKenna; @TheTweetofGod, aka David Javerbaum, who is an extremely unfunny hack and if you like his shitty Twitter gimmick-turned-Broadway Show starring the Bazinga guy, I’m sorry, you’re part of the problem; and Kurt Eichenwald, who was a 12-seed but melted down time after time last year. They are all different in their styles, and I think this is a testament to how we select accounts and also how the voters interpret shittiness.
Whether it be alt-right pseudo-celebrities like @Cernovich or @JackPosobiec or Hillary Clinton hangers-on like @PeterDaou or @Sally Albright, they’re all ridiculously shitty but significantly shitty in the sense they influence “normies.” Seth Abramson wrote a 102-tweet thread and people read it. Start a fucking blog and post the link. Aside from these accounts, there are other variations, such as shitty sports reporters, grifters, conspiracy theorists, man-threaders. I think the recipe is mostly just committing to the shitty bit, whatever that might be.
A lack of self-awareness?
That’s a good way of putting it. These people think they’re important, and that’s part of the magic and the horror of online. Eric Garland is now some sort of #Resistance hero because he snorted a bunch of meds and went on an incoherent rant about game theory: “The Modern Day Federalist Papers,” according to woke-headass Clara Jeffery. Now he’s beating his gimmick into the ground and idiots buy it because follows are currency.
How do you go about selecting which accounts are in the tournament?
I have a “committee” of about 12 people who help the process. In the first SAT, it was a more esoteric “irony thing,” but it resonated with a lot of different people, so I brought it back for a second year and had some pals help me narrow down a more expansive field. Even though I’m the Shit Account guy, it’s a collective effort. It’s fun. We have fun with it.
As someone who is well-versed in terrible accounts, what is your advice for people on how to avoid sucking online?
My advice is to keep it light and keep it fun. Don’t take it too seriously. A wise man sarcastically once tweeted, “This Website is Important,” and I try to live by those words.