The Rapid Rise of the Twitter Account Accidentally based surprises even the person who made it. One of many so-called gimmick accounts, Accidentally Based, was started as a left-wing response to conservative meme accounts that its creator noticed were growing rapidly. Just a month after Accidentally Based was created, the account had 100,000 followers, its owner estimates, and was retweeted by Twitter users with hundreds of thousands of followers themselves. What started as an experiment quickly turned out to be a reliable way to get content to millions of people.
“I thought it was worth a try, and maybe I could influence links,” says the account creator of starting Accidentally Based. “It didn’t feel like there were a lot of leftist accounts like that.”
But despite millions of impressions and efforts to build relationships with powerful players, both online and offline, the account’s influence is miniscule, the account owner says. Influencers and politicians on the left seldom, if ever, respond to their messages offering help and suggestions for collaboration. And they are worlds away from their right-wing counterparts who influence public policy and media cycles, such as the… ongoing firestorm around the viral Libs or TikTok account†
Accidentally Based repost screenshots of right-wing and conservative social media posts that inadvertently make a progressive or left-wing point. Topics range from anti-trans rhetoric to whether the US should raise the minimum wage, but the common thread is that the poster is oblivious to the fact that their argument benefits the other side. The tweets regularly accumulate hundreds of thousands of likes and retweets, making it easy fodder to point and laugh at.
In a message, a TikTok user with a Blue Lives Matter profile picture wonders why pads and tampons should be free just because half the population uses them. By that standard, the commentator asks sarcastically, shouldn’t food and water be free too, if everyone needs it? Unbeknownst to the TikTok commentator, Accidentally Based and its followers would agree.
Accidentally based is just one example of a type of anonymously run Twitter account, often referred to as gimmick accounts. The accounts usually have a specific type of content that they repost and are usually pulled from a variety of sources — Facebook comments, tweets, TikTok videos, and elsewhere — and much of it is user-submitted. The crowdsourced nature of the content means that celebrities and elected officials can appear alongside one’s QAnon uncle without a public platform.
Aggregated accounts exist across the political spectrum and also for more benign topics, such as: Bad old things or Brands that become property† Other accounts like Racism Watchdog and yes you are racist are often summoned by followers under racist tweets, a sort of bat signal to get them to weigh in and draw attention to the offending post.
Many of these accounts are managed anonymously despite huge followers, and some have played pivotal roles in politics other than collecting retweets. Libs from TikTok, a viral account strengthening anti-LGBTQ talking pointsis credited with inspiring legislation like Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill. When a story by The Washington Post revealed the identity of the creator of Libs of TikTok last week, right wing politicians and influencers quickly jumped to creator Chaya Raichik’s defense.
Celebrities like Lil Nas X and political advocacy groups like the Gravel Institute are among Accidentally Based’s followers, but the account’s creator says they’ve struggled to get influencers and politicians to recognize them the way right-wing Libs or TikTok do. in its platform and topics of discussion. While Raichik’s account has been embraced by the right, the owner of the Accidentally Based account says their own efforts on the left have been rejected — they’ve messaged politicians, influencers, and other political actors and offered to devise strategies for posting on social media and policy goals to their massive audiences, but rarely get a response, let alone interest.
Another person, who runs the left Twitter account for gimmick Right Can’t Memetold The edge via DMs who, while they haven’t reached out to left-wing influencers or politicians themselves, would be happy to help if there’s interest – it just hasn’t happened yet.
Meanwhile, the right has mechanized the use of gimmick accounts as another channel for their politics in a way left-wing contemporaries have been unable to do so.
“It actually kind of bothers us how the right-wing ecosystem seems to be set up to pump up these accounts and make them as popular as possible,” Accidentally Based says. Other right-wing meme accounts have been boosted in the past, they say, with influencers and political agents retweeting, mentioning, and coming out in defense. When Defiant L’s – an account sharing curated memes from liberal politicians and influencers who seem to contradict themselves – was briefly suspended earlier this year, the right collected around it†
“What they are doing now with Libs or TikTok, they were doing with Defiant L’s account a month ago,” says Accidentally Based.
The person who runs Accidentally Based has created multiple viral gimmick accounts – they run too Conservatives take ownership, followed by more than 380,000 people. Despite their massive digital reach (a total of one million followers, plus tens of millions of impressions per month), the person who runs Accidentally Based feels that their influence is largely untapped. First off, they don’t make any money from their followers besides a Ko-fi account that has brought in about $10. The dopamine hit of selecting messages destined to go viral is satisfying, but the ripple effects are there on the platform.
“I don’t feel like I really did much good with it,” they say of the account. But the potential is there.
For Accidentally Based, the Libs of TikTok effect is both a model and a warning. They would like to see left-wing gimmick accounts have the same influence as their right-wing counterparts, but they draw a line when sharing false or misleading information, such as Libs or TikTok did† The prior anonymity of Libs or TikTok didn’t bother Accidentally Based as much as the pipeline of false information into public policy – and Accidentally Based remains anonymous to prevent harassment from entering their private lives. The same goes for the random people in their feed: When someone in one of their posts messaged them that they were being harassed, Accidentally Based went back and deleted the tweet.
“I really don’t post anything that is controversial, but since I’m political, people on Twitter are really crazy and insane.”
For the person who runs The Right Can’t Meme, the pipeline itself is not a problem, as there is little difference between an account like Libs or TikTok and influencers like Dave Rubin or Tim Pool. If anything, they say they’d like to see links make more use of the network of accounts.
“I don’t think my account is the type that could have such an influence because I post almost exclusively memes, but it would be great if the left had more influential accounts.”