Meet the Engineer Whose Robot Is Printing and Burning Trump's Tweets - NBC Southern California
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Meet the Engineer Whose Robot Is Printing and Burning Trump's Tweets

"Burning each tweet allows people to acknowledge the tweet's existence and perform a small ritual of dismissal of it"

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    This Twitter account is the latest to burn President Donald Trump online, and it's doing it in a whole new way.

    On Tuesday, @burnedyourtweet joined Twitter with one purpose: sharing video of a robot printing Trump's latest tweets and burning them. 

    Each time @realDonaldTrump has tweeted since the account went live, the account posts a video of the plastic-and-wire robot printing the tweet on a strip of paper, cutting it with scissors, holding it over a lighter and throwing the burning message in an ashtray. Almost all of the tweets reply to Trump's personal Twitter account, writing simply, "I burned your tweet."

    After one day of actively tweeting at Trump, the account has over 10,000 followers. In its Twitter bio, the account describes itself as "giving Trump's tweets the attention they deserve."

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    The engineer behind the robot is David Neevel, a longtime creative technologist from Portland, Oregon, who now lives in Amsterdam after moving there for work. His website is full of gizmos he's created, and he confirmed to NBC that the robot and the Twitter account are his.

    "The goal with this robot was the same as with a lot of my robots: finding small, but not necessarily simple, ways of making life better," Neevel said.

    No fan of the 45th president, Neevel reasoned that Trump's tweets cause negative emotions for many, and the robot can alleviate those feelings because it is "immune" to them.

    Neevel said that "burning each tweet allows people to acknowledge the tweet's existence and perform a small ritual of dismissal of it."

    Trump is a longtime Twitter user with over 27 million followers. He's said it is a great way to get his message past a media he feels is biased against him, but he's also used it to share unverified claims without evidence, including recently that Barack Obama wiretapped him before the election. (The FBI director and other officials have said there is no evidence to support the claim; possible surveillance of Trump Tower is part of a controversial House investigation into Russia's alleged meddling in the 2016 election.)

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    Neevel said that the tweet-burning robot project took him a few weeks to master. He has created many robots before that solve everyday problems, but this one involved new elements he hadn't encountered before, like teaching the robot to read and recognize tweets to print.

    Neevel didn't expect the account to go viral overnight, but it was on Reddit's home page by Tuesday night. He said he hopes to expand on the account as well as shoot some background video that shows how the machine works.

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