No, Joe Biden will not be Mitt Romney’s running mate. But that’s exactly how Twitter reacted when a domain speculator who had purchased RomneyRyan.com years ago framed the official MittRomney.com site to make it look like the site was being mirrored there.
Add this tweet from Jim Acosta:
And the subsequent repetition across CNN’s various web properties and social accounts, and we have the Twitter equivalent of broscience. The damage was done. No amount of actual knowledge can combat a meme, at least not while it’s running. I know because I tried.
So what is RomneyRyan.com?
The website is a domain owned by Peter Crowley, a domain speculator. Crowley bought the domain name years ago, along with numerous other combinations, most of which he’s now deleted. Prior to today, it had a picture of Ryan and Romney and a contact email, but that changed last night after numerous media reports indicating Ryan was the pick.
After seeing those reports, Crowley changed the underlying HTML of RomneyRyan.com to make it appear as if the site were mirroring MittRomney.com, the official Mitt Romney page. At some point, Twitter noticed, and this new website was taken as proof positive of the earlier media reports that Romney would name Ryan as his running mate.
If Mitt Romney’s campaign actually owned RomneyRyan.com, many things would be different. First, and most importantly, it would not have launched prior to his announcement. Second, it would not be hosted on a separate web server, and it certainly wouldn’t be hosted on shared GoDaddy hosting. Romney’s real site makes heavy use of the Akamai CDN to provide redundancy and high availability. Shared hosting can’t even come close to meeting the needs of a presidential campaign.
Finally, if Mitt Romney actually owned RomneyRyan.com and wanted to mirror his site there, he wouldn’t be using frames. There are a host of reasons for this, but one of the most obvious: frames are deprecated, and they have been for a while. Outside of gimmicks like RomneyRyan.com, sites that haven’t been updated in years, and scam sites, they aren’t used.
**** None of the above should be taken to imply Ryan won’t be the VP pick. In fact, I think he probably will be, but we’ll know for sure in a few hours.
UPDATE: Didn’t even have to wait a few hours. Mitt’s VP pick has been officially announced as of 7:13 AM Eastern.