The GOP's Epic Web Fail

How Web trolls pwned the House Republicans' taxpayer-funded, crowd-sourced policy site.
The GOP's Epic Web Fail

It must have seemed like a good idea at the time. Looking for a way to position itself as the true voice of the American people, the House Republican leadership this week unveiled America Speaking Out, a networking website—financed with taxpayer dollars—to crowdsource ideas for future legislation. "I personally traveled to Washington state and discovered a Microsoft program that helped NASA map the moon," said Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), the site's congressional overseer. For all that effort, what McCarthy and the GOP got was a buggy, slow, 2.0-style site that quickly became a 4chan-style haven for liberal trolls. Web-savvy Americans, it turns out, do want to be heard on ASO, but most of them just want to flame on, mock, and rickroll Republicans.

Here, MoJo has collected a few examples of how ASO visitors are using the forum. It's the latest in a string of out-of-touch Web fails for GOPers, including Michael Steele's "What Up?" and McCainSpace, as they struggle to harness open Web systems the way Barack Obama did in 2008. "If you are genuinely trying to get a discussion going, you need to present yourself authentically from the start," writes new-media maven Erika Hall in her takedown of the site. "America Speaking Out looks like Rock the Vote and acts like an out-of-touch politician who has never seen the YouTube. This sort of thing comes about when an organization is jumping on a bandwagon or following a perceived trend for PR, rather than truly using the tools of modern communication technology."