Title

The Moral Act of Attributing Agency to Nonhumans: What Can Horse_ebooks Tell Us About Rhetorical Agency?

Document Type

Article

Journal/Book Title/Conference

Present Tense: A Journal of Rhetoric in Society

Volume

6

Issue

1

Publisher

Present Tense: A Journal of Rhetoric in Society

Publication Date

10-4-2016

First Page

1

Last Page

12

Abstract

The hyperbolic language used to express emotion at the end of a beloved account is nothing new; social media, particularly Twitter, allows for gut reactions to be published and recorded, often resulting in over-the-top rhetoric. What is curious about the reaction to Horse_ebooks is that fans were upset because they believed they had invested attention and emotion to a Twitter bot, and the reveal that it was a human betrayed their trust. Noteworthy about this case for rhetorical studies is what it exposes about our relationships to technology and our willingness or reticence to attribute agency to nonhuman actors.

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