GOP URL Shortener Short-Lived

The Republican National Committee launched yet another URL shortener yesterday (coincidentally, on the same day that Google and Facebook did likewise) as part of their plan to catch up with the Democrats in social media space. As with their recent website relaunch, the debut was less than auspicious.


The Republican party took down its innovative link-shortening tool Tuesday after pranksters had a field day using the tool to associate the G.O.P. with bondage sites.

Conservatives generally advocate a minimalist approach to certain areas of government. One wouldn’t necessarily expect them to extend that approach to web links, but that’s exactly what the Republican National Committee did with, an URL shortener designed to facilitate the exchange of links to web pages of interest to conservative web surfers.

Almost immediately after it launched Monday, pranksters began using the service to link to controversial or ironically intended websites such as the official site of the American Communist Party, a bondage website and a webpage advertising a sex toy in the likeness of Barack Obama. started blocking such links, apparently at some point Tuesday morning, and the homepage is now offline.

Possibly the first branded URL shortener (Google launched its own URL shortener Monday afternoon), was designed by the RNC’s new media consultants, Political Media, to work somewhat like, in that it shortens URLs so that they can be more easily exchanged through short messaging services like Twitter.

But unlike, includes a toolbar at the top of the screen that follows users as they click through to see whatever pages the links go to. It also sports an animation of RNC chairman Michael Steele walking around on the lower right as if he’s showing off the website — particularly awkward when that website is the bondage site. Users of the Balloon-Juice website entertained each other last night by exchanging scores of such links, which have since been blocked.

This was utterly predictable by anyone who had spent more than five minutes on the Internet.  And anyone who hires the bozos at “Political Media” after this deserves what they get.

As to John Cole and company, way to be a ruiner.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. JKB says:

    How can you sell yourself as a “new media” consultant and have absolutely no understanding of that medium?

    Tip to the RNC. Hire some 7th graders. They’ll find this stuff in a week. Oh and you need to be more free market and stop hiring someone’s kid to run your campaigns and websites.

  2. Lex says:

    “Way to be a ruiner?”

    That Balloon Juice thread was some of the most hilarious stuff I have ever seen on the Web … [Euell Gibbons voice] and I’ve been on the Web an AWFULLY long time [/Euell Gibbons voice].

    Laughing at Teh Stoopid is nonpartisan.

  3. Shade Tail says:

    “As to John Cole and company, way to be a ruiner.”

    “Ruiner”? Don’t be so melodramatic. What exactly did they ruin? It’s just a URL-shortener, and an annoying one at that. Who wants some political party’s frame around the site they’re viewing?

    Anyway, it is still up and running, and now they’ve been smart enough to filter the sites they link to. So if anything, Mr. Cole did them a service by pointing out the amazingly obvious bit of stupidity they had built into their site.

  4. I’m thinking the folks at should think a little more about policy than the website.

    Of course, let’s consider that pretty much the same people who were the pranksters are the same folks who call for civility in politics.