The COVFEFE ACT of 2017 was a bill introduced in the United States House of Representatives just months into the presidency of Donald Trump. The intent was to not only amend the Presidential Records Act (PRA) to include any electronic message of (or interaction with) the occupant of the oval office, but for the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) to qualify these assets for historical entry. This includes correspondence arising from the president’s personal social media accounts.
Of all these networks, an emphasis was placed on Twitter. The bill was a direct response to President Trump’s unyielding use of the platform which resulted in frequent off-the-cuff statements. Illinois Congressman Mike Quigley introduced the bill to strengthen the preservation of presidential communications and promote “government accountability and transparency.”
The COVFEFE Act is “Politics as Usual”
For lack of a better term, the origins of the COVFEFE Act are where things get a little cheesy. The bill gets its name from an unintelligible word that appeared in one of Donald Trump’s tweets. He had just come off the heels of a nine (9) day trip: His first abroad as President of the United States. During this time, his Twitter feed was uncharacteristically inactive. Then came his “covfefe” tweet, just after midnight on May 31, 2017, that was meant to disparage the free press.
It was probably a misspelling of the word “coverage,” but sins online are rarely forgiven. Congressman Quigley—using what little creativity he was able to muster—turned the typo into a backronym for Communications Over Various Feeds Electronically for Engagement. But his efforts were well-received. The barrage of President Trump’s unfiltered tweets were causing dilemmas in which he’d seemingly declare policy decisions. This, in turn, led to debate and seemingly contradictory positions within his own administration, and merited the need to archive such statements for future reference.
EDITORS NOTE: This wasn’t the congressman’s only attempt at a backronym regarding accessible data. He also helped introduce the MAR-A-LAGO Act, which would require the President to maintain a publicly available database of visitors to the White House. MAR-A-LOGO, in this instance, is a backronym for Making Access Records Available to Lead American Government Openness.
Ironically, the COVFEFE Act was indirectly endorsed by then-press secretary Sean Spicer who declared the president was indeed the president, and that anything he communicated was official. If this is true, then blocking Twitter users from viewing and/or commenting on his Twitter feed (something President Trump was known to do) would be a violation of people’s constitutional rights—namely, the freedom of speech without censorship or restraint.
The COVFEFE Act and other Musings
Needless to say, the COVFEFE Act wasn’t the only musing born of President Trump’s mysterious tweet. It seemed as though everyone was seeking to capitalize on the hysteria!
Memes were created…
and LOTS of them! No big surprise here. A quick Google search will turn up tens and thousands of graphics poking fun at the word. Some are funny, and some are about as cringeworthy as the COVFEFE Act, itself.
Vanity license plates were reserved.
A resident of the State of California posted they had registered a vanity license plate with the word “Covfefe.” 21 other states reported they received similar request orders. The State of Georgia, however, banned license plates using this word or any variation of it.
A top-level domain name was registered.
Did you know that on the SAME DAY the Covfefe tweet surfaced, someone registered the covfefe.com domain name with GoDaddy? On one hand you must commend this person for their business savvy, as new dotcoms can run you anywhere from 10 – 15 dollars (and sometimes for just 99 cents if you have a promo code). But it falls flat at the report of the registrant being offered 15 – 20 thousand dollars for it, just to turn it down! Today (three years later at the time of this writing), the domain is listed for lease or for sale, and even allows you to make an offer on it.
Covfefe Malware and Covfefevirus (Covfefe-19)
Speaking of digital occurrences, at least two (2) other developments ensued as a result of the Covfefe frenzy. According to Hybrid Analysis, a free service for
detecting unique and malicious threats online, there is actually malware known as Covfefe.exe in the digital ecosystem! At this time it has a meager threat score of 17/100 and isn’t anything to worry about. While the report doesn’t make this clear, it is likely the same binary pattern that arose from the 2017 Flare-on challenge hosted by FireEye, a California cybersecurity company.
There’s no questioning, however, the threat score of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic of 2020. With over 120,000 deaths worldwide and about 23,000 of those occurring in the United States, the threat has been dubbed by President Trump’s detractors as the Covfefevirus and Covfefe-19. This, too, is no big surprise, as all presidents get blamed for tragedies that occur on their watch.
Many outlets are properly covering the biological pandemic, but at Malware.xyz, we are also concerned about its ramifications in the world of Tech. Not to be confused with Covfefe.exe, a network of malicious websites have surfaced among the 4,000 or so legitimate COVID-19 related properties. Collectively described as Coronavirus Malware, we’ve written about how to avoid these websites and what to do if your computer or mobile device becomes infected by one.
If nothing else, the COVFEFE Act raises questions about the way social media has changed the way we communicate with our target audiences. The President of the United States, whoever he or she maybe, cannot be excluded from this discussion. Traditional media like television and newspapers are either folding or losing ratings by the day. It is not enough to be able to decry “FAKE NEWS” or generate it for that matter. There has to be some credibility when disseminating information to the masses.
Simply put, if social media grants such an enormous power, it is high time that some thought was given to the responsibility that comes along with it. And what better place to start than at the top: With the chief executive of the greatest country on earth? Though we all appreciate the novelty of social media and its independence from the status quo, the raging incidents of cyberbullying and trolling may point to the need of order and light regulation. The COVFEFE Act sought to do just that, but has yet to be enacted.