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.

Getty Images.
Show Hide image

PMQs review: Theresa May shows again that Brexit means hard Brexit

The Prime Minister's promise of "an end to free movement" is incompatible with single market membership. 

Theresa May, it is commonly said, has told us nothing about Brexit. At today's PMQs, Jeremy Corbyn ran with this line, demanding that May offer "some clarity". In response, as she has before, May stated what has become her defining aim: "an end to free movement". This vow makes a "hard Brexit" (or "chaotic Brexit" as Corbyn called it) all but inevitable. The EU regards the "four freedoms" (goods, capital, services and people) as indivisible and will not grant the UK an exemption. The risk of empowering eurosceptics elsewhere is too great. Only at the cost of leaving the single market will the UK regain control of immigration.

May sought to open up a dividing line by declaring that "the Labour Party wants to continue with free movement" (it has refused to rule out its continuation). "I want to deliver on the will of the British people, he is trying to frustrate the British people," she said. The problem is determining what the people's will is. Though polls show voters want control of free movement, they also show they want to maintain single market membership. It is not only Boris Johnson who is pro-having cake and pro-eating it. 

Corbyn later revealed that he had been "consulting the great philosophers" as to the meaning of Brexit (a possible explanation for the non-mention of Heathrow, Zac Goldsmith's resignation and May's Goldman Sachs speech). "All I can come up with is Baldrick, who says our cunning plan is to have no plan," he quipped. Without missing a beat, May replied: "I'm interested that [he] chose Baldrick, of course the actor playing Baldrick was a member of the Labour Party, as I recall." (Tony Robinson, a Corbyn critic ("crap leader"), later tweeted that he still is one). "We're going to deliver the best possible deal in goods and services and we're going to deliver an end to free movement," May continued. The problem for her is that the latter aim means that the "best possible deal" may be a long way from the best. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.