Trolls overwhelm Republican online campaign

"Adolf Hitler", "Miso Horney" and "BonerDude SixtyNine" sign petition.

The National Republican Congressional Committee is running a petition campaign against the Affordable Care Act (also known as "Obamacare"). Promoted on twitter with the hashtag #IWantRepeal, the NRCC asked supporters to sign up on their website with their first name, last name, address, email and twitter handle.

As an added incentive, they had a livestream set up, so supporters could see their petition being printed off in real time.

In hindsight, it was perhaps asking for trouble. Because soon enough, the internet found the site.

At times, a hand came into shot, pulling false names out of the pile:

But eventually, even the faceless trollfighter was overwhelmed. The printer stopped – maybe on purpose, maybe because it had just run out of paper – and one final fake (sounding) name was left:

The Obama campaign's digital director, Teddy Goff, contributed an epitaph:

Trolls take a rest from sabotaging Republican campaigns to hang out in a forest. Photograph: Getty Images

Alex Hern is a technology reporter for the Guardian. He was formerly staff writer at the New Statesman. You should follow Alex on Twitter.

A second referendum? Photo: Getty
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Will there be a second EU referendum? Petition passes 1.75 million signatures

Updated: An official petition for a second EU referendum has passed 1.75m signatures - but does it have any chance of happening?

A petition calling for another EU referendum has passed 1.75 million signatures

"We the undersigned call upon HM Government to implement a rule that if the remain or leave vote is less than 60% based a turnout less than 75% there should be another referendum," the petition reads. Overall, the turnout in the EU referendum on 23 June was 73 per cent, and 51.8 per cent of voters went for Leave.

The petition has been so popular it briefly crashed the government website, and is now the biggest petition in the site's history.

After 10,000 signatures, the government has to respond to an official petition. After 100,000 signatures, it must be considered for a debate in parliament. 

Nigel Farage has previously said he would have asked for a second referendum based on a 52-48 result in favour of Remain.

However, what the petition is asking for would be, in effect, for Britain to stay as a member of the EU. Turnout of 75 per cent is far higher than recent general elections, and a margin of victory of 20 points is also ambitious. In the 2014 independence referendum in Scotland, the split was 55-45 in favour of remaining in the union. 

Unfortunately for those dismayed by the referendum result, even if the petition is debated in parliament, there will be no vote and it will have no legal weight. 

Another petition has been set up for London to declare independence, which has attracted 130,000 signatures.