Romney Campaign Hunts Down Social Media SatiristS

Pinterest—the social network for prudes and women who knit—got its first political satire account yesterday. Within 24 hours, Mitt Romney's president campaign torpedoed it.

Pinterest allows users to "pin" images with hyperlinks and commentary. MittRomneyGOP's pins included Hermes scarves, precious gems, and a bottle of Pellegrino (Caption: "Have you ever taken a Pellegrino bath? It's like a jacuzzi, but you save on electricity.") Uproxx LOLed at the bait-and switch: "[I]t seems like just the sort of thing a noted panderer like Mittens would do to maybe rope in a few more votes from the ladies."

Within 24 hours, the real Mitt Romney had launched a defense. "We were recently contacted by officials from Mitt Romney's campaign because they feel it's very misleading and they're requesting that it be changed to 'fakemittromney,'" Pinterest Community Manager Enid Hwang wrote in an email Eric Spiegelman, the internet humorist behind the MittRomneyGOP, this morning.

Spiegelman resisted the change, but the social network relocated his pinboard to FakeMittRomney anyway. "It kills all the links from yesterday," he lamented in a Gchat minutes after the change went live.

Here is the relocated satire. Below, Spiegelman's email exchange with Hwang.

From: Enid Hwang
Date: Fri, Feb 10, 2012 at 9:51 AM PST
Subject: Pinterest: "MittRomneyGOP" username
To: Eric Spiegelman

Hi Eric,

I'm Enid, the Community Manager at Pinterest. As you might have guessed, I'm writing regarding your username "MittRomneyGOP." We were recently contacted by officials from Mitt Romney's campaign because they feel it's very misleading and they're requesting that it be changed to "fakemittromney."

We actually really appreciate political commentary on Pinterest - and I know your account is clearly satirical - but we're a young company so we don't have a feature/process in place for "verified accounts" (such as Twitter) which would make the purpose of your account immediately obvious to any user on the site.

If you don't mind changing your username, let me know. Or, you can just go ahead and make the switch yourself at: https://pinterest.com/settings. We've been brainstorming alternatives and unfortunately we feel changing your profile picture or adding a byline on your "bio" section on Pinterest may not be sufficient because that information isn't included with all pins that propagate through the site.

We're also really open to discussing the issue more with you, so you can reach me directly at [REDACTED] if you have any questions.

I'm sorry for the trouble and again, don't hesitate to call if you're concerned about this!


Enid

community manager . pinterest.com/enid . @pinterest

From: Eric Spiegelman
Date: Fri, Feb 10, 2012 at 10:14 AM PST
Subject: Re: Pinterest: "MittRomneyGOP" username
To: Enid Hwang

Hi Enid,

Obviously I understand your concern. And I can imagine as a new company (one that's really doing a great job), you'd prefer not to have hassles like this. But at the same time, you're a publishing entity that's more or less open to the public, and I can't in good conscience change my parody at the request of the subject of that parody. It should be obvious to the Romney campaign that nobody sees this as official, and that I am exercising my Free Speech rights in making fun of Gov. Romney's utter tone-deafness when it comes to matters of privilege and class inequality.

That being said, I understand that you are well within your rights to delete my account. But I really hope you choose not to.

You have a wonderful service in Pinterest, and I wish your team all the best, however you proceed with this.

Best,
Eric

From: Enid Hwang
Date: Fri, Feb 10, 2012 at 10:24 AM PST
Subject: Re: Pinterest: "MittRomneyGOP" username
To: Eric Spiegelman

Hi Eric,

Thanks for getting back to me so quickly: We have no intention of deleting your account. It's satire and it should stay! We'll change the username (this doesn't affect your boards, pins, or anything else about your profile settings) and we feel that's sufficient. Once we institute verified accounts this, and any future issues, will be taken care of universally. That's our responsibility so sorry again for having you caught in the middle of it.

I really appreciate your note (and compliments!) and thanks so much for your understanding,

Enid

From: Eric Spiegelman
Date: Fri, Feb 10, 2012 at 10:40 AM PST
Subject: Re: Pinterest: "MittRomneyGOP" username
To: Enid Hwang

No, I mean, I'd prefer you don't change my username either.

We asked Pinterest if they have a policy on satire and impersonation. We'll update if they respond. [FakeMittRomney, Spiegelman, Uproxx]

Update: Spiegelman apologizes.