This past Tuesday evening, as the White House wound down after another tumultuous day, Counselor to the President, Kellyanne Conway was looking at corgis on the internet.
Just after 8:30 P.M., Conway followed two corgi-related novelty Twitter accounts in rapid succession. First, it was @TheCutestCorgis (bio: "Because who doesn't love corgis?!?!") followed by @OhMyCorgi, a powerhouse cute pet account with over 685,000 followers.
Normally this sort of peculiar detail might go unnoticed by even the most watchful of social media eyes. But thanks to a new Twitter bot now you, too, can keep tabs on the social media nuances of the Trump family and certain members of the White House as well.
The bot — @TrumpsAlert — claims to track "Trump family follow and unfollows" with the aim of trying to "figure out what is going on inside the White House." It was created by James O'Malley, a freelance writer currently serving as GizmodoUK's editor. O'Malley got the idea after seeing a tweet claiming Donald Trump had unfollowed Kellyanne Conway, which triggered a rash of speculation about trouble in the West Wing.
"It reminded me of how North Korea is tracked by the west - by observing photos and messages coming from state television, analysts try to figure out who is in and out of favor," O'Malley told BuzzFeed News over Twitter. "Given that the Trump Administration is essentially the same thing - Royal Court politics - I figured that watching the inner circle’s Twitter accounts could help us understand the Kremlinology of what is going on in the White House."
While @TrumpsAlert probably won't generate any stunning revelations, the account does offer an interesting glimpse into the social media lives of Trump and those in his orbit.
For example, here the bot shows us Eric Trump's July 1 dive down an MMA and professional boxing rabbit hole:
Or when Don Jr. followed fellow Seth Rich conspiracy tweeter Kim Dotcom (who faces potential extradition to the US for copyright infringement and money laundering charges).
In general, the bot does an excellent job chronicling Don Jr.'s beefed-up conservative media Twitter list (which may have had something to do with a noticeable uptick in his tweeting in defense of his father).
The bot also catches some great Twitter beef that might have fallen off the radar — including Don Jr. unfollowing comedian Natasha Leggero after she tweeted mocking a photo President Trump and Ivanka.
Here's Leggero's tweet:
Thanks to @TrumpsAlert, we learned that Kellyanne Conway didn't follow Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders until July 5. 👀
There are a few other surprises along the way, like Eric Trump following the account for Vice — which keeps a "running guide to Donald Trump’s highly abnormal presidency."
And while the account is fun in a wink, nudge kind of way, it could also be a potentially useful tool for reporters or those looking for an early signal of news to come.
For example, @TrumpsAlert posts each time one of the selected accounts changes its bio — which could be handy for tracking any potential job changes in the administration (should somebody change a title before alerting the press). Other changes — like location, name, banner, etc. — could provide important signals.
According to O'Malley, the bot currently tracks Donald Trump, his children, and Kellyanne Conway. O'Malley set it to track White House press secretary Sean Spicer, but thinks there may be a bug in the Spicer code. As for the future, O'Malley is planning to add more functionality and staffers. "I’ve got a few ideas for other features to add to it," he said. "But finding the time to sit down and swear at my computer [hoping] my half-baked code works is time consuming!"
Charlie Warzel is a senior writer for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York. Warzel reports on and writes about the intersection of tech and culture.
Contact Charlie Warzel at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.