It’s perhaps no surprise at all that Cory Bernardi and the Australian Conservatives have suddenly decided they need an app years after basically everyone else realised that apps kinda suck. Don’t get me wrong: some apps are good and useful. But nobody on earth uses more than like five apps regularly, and I shudder to think of what kind of person would add a barely functional Cory Bernardi app into their current rotation.
But it’s definitely something worth noticing. Conservatives and far-right types across the globe are of the steadfast belief that mainstream social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter are irredeemably biased to the left, and that such platforms are not a safe place for those on the right to post. As such, many of them have scuttled to alternative and (generally) harder to police platforms like YouTube, or creating their own – like the horrific Nazi-infested hellhole that is Gab.
So Cory has his own app now, named A Better Way. As media reported over the weekend, Bernardi says it’s a “safe space” for conservatives who want to be able to share their beliefs “free of abuse” from the left. “It’s a way for us and you to interact across the conservative divide,” he said on Saturday.
At a press event on Saturday, Bernardi said that he intended it as a right-wing equivalent to GetUp, and would be an important tool in building a “formidable campaigning team” for the upcoming federal election, in which he hopes to score five to seven Senate seats. Sounds pretty damn important!
So how’s the app? In a word: baffling. When you open it, you are greeted with this screen:
Aside from looking like a high school software development project, you don’t have to scroll down very far in the news feed to start finding incredibly aggressive and odd racist posts. The app has only existed for a few days, so you have to assume these people just logged on and started posting filth instantly, which is a commitment to being the worst person one has no choice but to respect.
The entire concept which differentiates this from Facebook – aside from the fact you seem to be able to post whatever insane screeds you like without anyone laughing at you – is that you are allocated ‘points’ for posting, as well as commenting on and liking other posts.
These points are then tallied up on a prominently displayed leaderboard in case you wanted to prove how committed you are to posting.
As you can see, the people topping off this leaderboard at the moment are mostly Australian Conservatives candidates – including everyone’s favourite shit-eater Lyle Shelton. Unfortunately despite his most valiant effort, Lyle could only accrue a paltry 2,890 posting points, which really puts his commitment to the conservative cause into question.
Especially considering that I, a lowly ‘intern’ who has made exactly zero posts, came out of the gate with 165 points already locked and loaded.
At this point, you may be finding this whole system eerily familiar.
No, not because it’s a shithouse Twitter clone with a pointless and transparent gamification system slapped haphazardly on top. No, not because it’s a harrowing safe space for baby boomers to post sideways photos to their heart’s content where their grown adult children cannot mock them.
No, you might be finding this eerily familiar because it is not an alternative social media platform at all – whatever dodgy app development shop has conned Bernardi out of party money is literally just doing a shitty clone of the swathe of celebrity apps out there at the moment, most notably Taylor Swift‘s app The Swift Life.
(A better comparison might be the hilarious Jeremy Renner app, which – as reported by The Verge – operates on a similar completely arbitrary points system and, as a bonus, plays an unskippable 42-second sample of Jeremy Renner singing for no reason when you open it.)
So that’s what you’re getting, folks. This is the key part of the Australian Conservatives’ digital campaign efforts leading into the next election: a Cory Bernardi app which is a ripoff of Taylor Swift’s app where you can earn points for posting insane nonsense you could have been posting on Facebook anyway.