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Tory 'Cash Gordon' campaign suffers Web2.0rhea bum rush

Lesson in how not to 'trend' on Twitter

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Updated The Tories, in their enthusiasm for all things Web2.0rhea, launched an ill-conceived Facebook Connect campaign over the weekend that they hoped would encourage people to gripe about Labour's ties to the Unite union.

As is the norm in these, er, web-enlightened days, the Conservative Party hoped to turn "#cashgordon" into a "trending" topic on Twitter.

Well their wish appears to have come true, but perhaps not in the way the Tories had planned it because many people were injecting some JavaScript code into their tweets, which meant the site was for a time being redirected to the Labour Party, porn sites and even Rick Astley singing on YouTube.

The Tories recently launched their own tech manifesto, in which the David Cameron-led party proclaimed it would embrace the interwebs, do some stuff with open source software and even get heavily involved in crowd sourcing just to show how down-wid-da-kids they really are.

But at time of writing the cash-gordon.com site is out of action and redirecting to the Tories' main homepage, all because in their rush to attack the opposition online, the Conservative Party forgot one fundamental rule of good Web2.0rhea PR: don't get hacked, stoopid!

Earlier today, the Tories gloated about their Cash Gordon campaign, even though at that point it only had about 600 supporters.

The party couldn't resist posting a self-congratulatory missive on its website this morning in which the "Conservative blogger, turned speechwriter, turned online campaigning guy" Samuel Coates bigged up the campaign:

"Having a Facebook page and updating it regularly is the bread and butter of what political groups and representatives can do, but there’s also room to think outside of the box.

"There’s also the Facebook Connect feature, for example, that enables users to log in to third party websites using their Facebook account. There have been some fun and practical uses of it so far, though few in the political realm," he said.

Coates went on to claim that the Cash Gordon campaign was "one of the most innovative uses of the [Facebook Connect] tool yet seen in the UK."

In the same post he urged people to "spread the word" to raise awareness online about Charlie Whelan's influence over Prime Minister Gordon Brown and the Labour Party.

"Unlike face-to-face traditional campaigning, a lot of online advocacy is hard to measure and often goes unrecognised - action points provide a way of both measuring and incentivising those efforts," he noted.

"In the brave new world of online politics it’s importantly [sic] to keep innovating this way. If you have any ideas on how else we could be using the internet, please let us know in the comment thread."

Well, the interwebs has spoken, Coates. But perhaps not in the way the Tories had anticipated.

The Register asked the Conservative Party to comment on this story, but at time of writing no one had gotten back to us with a response. Tory flacks have been uncharacteristically quiet on Twitter too. Funny that. ®

Update

The Tories gave us this statement, however the Cash Gordon site is still redirecting to the party's "Blue Blog".

“There was an attempt made to redirect #CashGordon users to other websites. We’ve made the necessary adjustments to the site and the #CashGordon campaign has now led to many thousands [sic] people hearing about Unite’s funding stranglehold over the Labour Party,” said a Conservative spokesman.

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