Conservatives under pressure as they delete web archive
The Conservative Party have taken the very odd decision to to remove a decade of speeches and press releases from their official party website. Computer Weekly noticed that the content from between 2000 and the general election in 2010 had been wiped from the site.
This deletion encompasses Michael Howard and Iain Duncan Smith’s leadership of the party, as well as the first five years of David Cameron’s time at the helm. Critics say it makes it harder to hold the party to account, and judge their current policies against previous statements.
Computer Weekly reported that the Conservatives have inserted a robots.txt file into the code of conservatives.com, which blocks search engines like Google, and the official web archive, from crawling and archiving the content. Luckily, Buzzfeed UK have kindly put together 6 of the key speeches that have disappeared, and others spent time digging up web stories and videos that were embarrassing for the party, giving them more publicity than if they had just stayed on the party website.
On ConservativeHome, executive editor, Mark Wallace points out that the Conservative’s “oft-repeated objective is to make it more like Barack Obama’s site, which is occupied by current campaign messages and opportunities to sign up to various campaigns (and thus give valuable contact data), not by archives and news feeds.” Wallace also rightly points out that Obama’s campaign manager Jim Messina has joined the Conservative’s campaign efforts, and may well have advised on these changes.
The problem is that the deletion has totally distracted from the party’s message, particularly when they should have been focussing solely on the improving economic moves. Of course, political opponents on social media were more than happy to pile in:
To be fair, if you had Iain Duncan Smith as your party leader you’d do your damn best to remove all evidence of it
— John Prescott (@johnprescott) November 13, 2013
This is not the only digital disaster the party have had in recent times. They launched the #sharethefacts campaign on Twitter, the hashtag inevitably being hijacked by facts and comments the party wouldn’t want shared at all. Time and time again, political parties in the UK and exposing themselves to ridicule on the net, and don’t seem to be learning.