Jack Harrison is a political blogger and student at the University of Cambridge. He was the author of the blog Minority 2017 from 2017 to 2019. He can be found on Twitter @JackH1010.
A few days ago, I was informed of the Matt Hancock app. This is, apparently, a social media website themed on Matt Hancock. This was, of course, far too intriguing for me not to get and then write about, so that’s exactly what I did.
Amazingly, you can just put “Matt Hancock” into the search bar on the App Store and be greeted with an actual app called Matt Hancock, which is frankly the closest thing to fun you can have on the App Store. The app has a lengthy description, and of course reviews. A one star review reads “At first I quite enjoyed Matt Hancock. Every day I’d wake up to notifications from Matt Hancock. Matt Hancock would send me videos of Matt Hancock… my own life became so consumed with Matt Hancock that I forgot what human interaction meant.” Spooky. I hope that doesn’t happen to me.
However, the reviews of the app are mainly positive or neutral, averaging 3.4 stars. A five star review reads “this really does satisfy my needs for constant global information as a millennial in the Digital Information Age.” Another reads “I am so glad we have such clever people ruling over us.” I was unable to find a serious review, and if I did find one I would assume that the author needed help.
Opening the app, the user is greeted immediately to a video of Matt Hancock talking about how he is using this app to help better represent the people of West Suffolk and it is quite wholesome if you are able to briefly forget that this is an actual real life politician and not a character pretending to be one.
This is followed by terms and conditions, which tell us did they actually bother to register under the Data Protection Act? And the answer is yes (they are Data Protection Registration Number Z2305159 if you’re interested). The next screen on the app is a set of guidelines, including “be yourself”. Then it is on to creating an account. I used my childhood email because I didn’t want spam from Matt Hancock, or whatever business collects data from the app (I have no evidence that this practice actually goes on for this app – do not sue me for libel). It contains the word awesome so you know that I was an absolute professional when I was thirteen. Then I uploaded a profile picture of me in the most dapper of suits and off to the races I went.
Or at least I thought I was off to the races, but instead I got a dialogue box “Matt Hancock would like to access your photos.” Whoa! Can Matt Hancock see the photos on my phone now? Yes, technically. But it would probably break data protection law if he were to view them personally (or maybe it wouldn’t, I don’t know I’m not a lawyer). There’s not much interesting there, a few memes and a few selfies, he can knock himself out with it if he likes, I’m not going to tell the Information Commissioner. Then another dialogue box: “Matt Hancock would like to send you notifications.” Meh, why not? Nobody else sends me notifications.
The layout of the app is reminded me of another popular social media app – indeed, if I was to guess, I would say that the app from which the designers have taken great inspiration is even more popular than the Matt Hancock app itself. Framed within this definitely-not-copied interface is a post from Matt Hancock – a video with just six likes and four comments. I didn’t watch it.
The real shebang of this app comes in the hashtags. These include #cilitbang; a hashtag that is too profane for me to commit to print, which is an affectionate nickname that the app’s users have for Matt Hancock based on his surname; but one of the most popular hashtags is #communism, in which there are 10 posts, one of which is from an account named after a certain infamous communist. It has a photo of Matt Hancock on the phone with a caption that reads “You pick up the phone and it’s Matty boi on the line what do you two talk about?” In case it was not already clear, this app is bizarre.
With nothing left to do but get involved myself, I requested friendship of an account that I am sure is definitely the real Danny Devito and then composed my own post.
It simply reads “Ed Balls. #edballs”.