Mystery Bell Tower Tweeter Revealed

Creator of @UCR_Belltower Twitter account reveals his identity and explains why he created the feed

Andrew Shin in front of the bell tower.

Andrew Shin is the creator of the UCR bell tower Twitter account. Photo Credit: Audrey Mach

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (www.ucr.edu) — It popped up on Twitter in June 2012: @UCR_Belltower.

The description: “Letting you know the time hour by hour, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.”

Beyond that, the account only included a location (Riverside, CA) and a link to belltower.ucr.edu, a site devoted to the University of California, Riverside’s 161-foot bell tower.

There was no indication as to who created and maintained the account. And, five years and more than 27,000 tweets later, there was still no indication.

That is coming to an end now.

Andrew Shin, who is graduating this month with a degree in political science, is @UCR_Belltower.

In 2012, Shin, then a second-year-student at the University of California, Riverside, came across the Twitter account for the Big Ben clock tower in London (@big_ben_clock).

“I thought, ‘We have a bell tower too, why not create an account for it.’”

@UCR_Belltower was born.

The idea, like the Big Ben account, was to mark time on Twitter timelines. At one o’clock the account tweeted “BONG,” at two o’clock “BONG BONG,”etc.

Initially, Shin attempted to do this manually. After a week he realized that wasn’t feasible. He solved the problem by writing a computer script to automate the BONGs.

Since then, @UCR_Belltower has been BONGing every hour and occasionally retweeting campus news, commenting about events taking place in its shadow and being tweeted at itself.

Andrew Shin at the top of the bell tower.

Andrew Shin standing next to the carillon at the top of the bell tower.

Examples include:

Jan. 25, 2016, from @marmarinator: “Who runs this account. A tweet for every single hour of every single day. Dont you get sleepy? Dont u have midterms?”

Dec. 12, 2015, from @egeach: “@UCR_Belltower Sitting next to you, enjoying the Christmas Carols you are playing right now! #HolidayCarillonConcert #Love”

Nov. 3, 2014, from @anuuukat: “The@UCR_Belltower tweets are more interesting than half the posts on my feed n all it says is bong”

Shin said it was important for him to maintain a professional appearance on the account.

“It is meant to show a different side of UCR,” he said. “To show people we have a bell tower that tweets at you.”

Close friends of Shin knew he created the account. If asked, he said he would tell people he created the account. Yet, he is likely anonymous to most of the more than 800 followers of the account.

Shin, who went to high school in Rancho Cucamonga, will be graduating this month with a degree in political science. He has held jobs on campus doing mostly computer programming for groups including the Academic Senate, Bourns College of Engineering, Residence Hall Association and the Associated Students Program Board.

After graduating, Shin hopes to land a job as either a software engineer or a systems administrator.

Meanwhile, he won’t forget @UCR_Belltower.

“This has been a fun project for four years,” he said. “I’m kind of sad I’m graduating. I’m really proud of how this grew.”

Media Contact


Tel: (951) 827-4756
E-mail: john.warren@ucr.edu

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