WASHINGTON, D.C. — Thousands of Sailors beta testing the Navy’s new, $130 million attempt at a digitally secure version of Twitter have been tweeting that the app apparently “sux ballz.”
Dubbed Scuttlebutt!, the Navy/Marine Corps Intranet’s (NMCI) new site has been receiving non-stop criticism on Twitter from the very Sailors whom the sea service has been hoping to attract since launching its own microblogging application in late March.
"Just tried @scuttlebutt! and it sux ballz," Twitter user @daveybonez, who was later identified as Scuttlebutt! beta tester Seaman David Rodwell, tweeted last Tuesday.
"100% agree new site @Scuttlebutt! eats ass," Petty Officer 2nd Class Monica Murphy commented during her retweet of Rodwell's original complaint.
Rodwell and Murphy are not alone in their frustration, as data compiled from the survey found that 85 percent of Scuttlebutt! testers described the application as “too slow”, “frustrating”, and “about as much fun as assembling a bed from Ikea, but with way more steps."
Chief among the complaints was the difficulty the Sailors had in “scuttling” mass messages to their friends (or “mateys”) due to all of the security measures they first had to get through.
“I can’t believe they expect you to hook a CAC reader up to your phone,” said Culinary Specialist 3rd Class Veronica Eastleng, who experienced difficulty navigating all of the steps required before a Scuttlebutt! user can eventually send a message to a matey.
“Once I finally got the CAC to work, and I remembered my password, and I verified all my certificates," Eastleng added, "my iPhone said it didn’t trust the Scuttlebutt! app. What the hell?"
Eastleng feels the numerous steps that users must take just to send out a short message on Scuttlebutt! defeats the entire purpose of microblogging.
“Social media shouldn’t be about having to think about 'security patches', or 'certificates', or 'privacy'," Eastleng said. "It should just be about instantly getting your thoughts out to the world before forgetting what you think you mean to say.”
Unfortunately for the Navy and NMCI, Sailors aren’t the only ones giving negative feedback. Many members of Congress are questioning how it could cost an estimated $132 million to develop a cell phone app that, on its face, looks as if it could have been designed by a tech-savvy teenager tinkering on a low-grade personal computer.
“To burn through that much taxpayer money on such an unnecessary and insignificant program during times of financial austerity is unconscionable,” said Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.), a member of the House Armed Services Committee. “Were there a hashtag for this new program, it would be #fraudwasteandabuse.”
Hunter is calling for an independent audit into how NMCI spent each dollar used to develop Scuttlebutt!
While the Navy was unwilling to have a representative go on record to address all of the criticism being hurled at the app, NMCI did release a brief statement to the media in its defense.
“We at NMCI have full faith in Scuttlebutt! and are confident that, much like Navy Knowledge Online, this groundbreaking program will eventually become extremely popular and beloved by our Sailors,” the statement read.
The statement also goes on to say that development is already underway on a new, photo-based social media application similar to the wildly-popular Instagram.
“This secure, cutting-edge application,” the statement reads, “will allow Sailors to shoot and caption photos on their phones, and then instantly transmit those photos to whomever the Sailor wishes … pending review by proper release authorities, of course.”
Duffel Blog attempted to get clarification on NMCI’s statement by reaching out via Scuttlebutt!, but the site was down at press time.