Now that blogs are dead and everything is apps, even the great American political tradition of Capitol Hill staffers anonymously gossiping about each other (and the interns) has had to adjust: Enter Cloakroom—Yik Yak for Congress.
Cloakroom, Re/code reports, is a messaging app for people with a senate.gov or house.gov email address. Users sign up and claim an alias (actually, users can have several aliases) and proceed to how best to bridge the partisan divide. Just kidding! It mostly appears to be memes and male staffers appraising their female colleagues’ looks.
“Women need to just accept that if they are even somewhat attractive, every guy they meet after they turn 14 is trying to have sex with them. End of story,” concludes one thread about the weather. (Re/code has more screenshots.)
Its creator, Ted Henderson (himself a former House staffer) has high aspirations for the app—he hopes that it can become a place where people who work on the Hill can leak information to journalists and ask questions of policy experts.
There are currently 11 “channels,” organized by topic (e.g. “House of Cards” and “Senate Floor”). In the “Hill-Life” channel there is presently a thread which began as a place to gripe about salaries (“If I don’t see a raise staffer’s salaries leg branch appropriations request soon I might just add the prohibit members from flying first class to our letter”) and degenerated in a joke about the overuse of commas (“You, asked, me, to, comment, on, your, grammar”).
A three-person team monitors reported content, which purportedly keeps things from getting too out of hand. “We get an email as soon as something is reported. If there are multiple reports in short time, it gets auto-filtered, but not deleted,” Henderson said.
“Filtered [means] it’s no longer visible in the feed until we’ve had a chance to weigh in. Like, if it’s a dick pic, it’s gonna get taken down.” Henderson said he expects most users to self-regulate, as they “are all somewhat professional, they’re staffers on the Hill.”