Preston Richey

@E29DA4

Though I refuse to say anything the Westboro Baptist Church does is actually good, it certainly had a prolific Vine account. By the time the service shut down (RIP 😭), the account had amassed 793 posts and a whopping 46M loops. With as many eyes as it had captive, I decided to try and use my budding Python skills for a bit of social media activism.

The Vine API was never officially documented, but an unofficial reference surfaced, as did several API wrappers. I started playing around with vinepy and was quickly browsing the timeline, liking Vines, and commenting. I came up with the idea of leaving comments on each of the WBC’s Vines. Even though I couldn’t stop them from posting, I could automate a response that would be carried along and seen by thousands.

I set up a login, @E29DA4 (#E29DA4 being the hex representation of Unicode code point U+2764, ❤), then wrote this script, which finds the most recent WBC Vine and comments “❤️💛💚💙💜“. The Vine API didn’t allow you to comment the same thing twice on the same Vine, so I was saved the effort of checking whether or not I’d already commented. With a simple hourly cron job, @E29DA4 was up and running.

The script ran for several months before WBC blocked the account, preventing it from commenting any longer. I wish I had statistics about on how many Vines the script commented, but my guess would be in the hundreds, since it ran during the period when the WBC was most active.