A screenshot from January 20, 2021 shows HTML code on https://www.whitehouse.gov/ with an invitation to the US Digital Service, a technology unit in the White House.
A digital “Easter egg” buried in software code on the newly updated Biden Administration White House website contains a greeting message for technicians who stumble upon it: There is a job waiting for you.
“If you’re reading this, we need your help to rebuild better,” reads one line in the HTML for the WhiteHouse.gov home page.
The line ends with a link to the website of the US Digital Service, a branch of the executive branch whose employees develop and improve digital tools for use by those who interact electronically with the federal government.
Isaac Hepworth, a Microsoft employee, highlighted the unusual “Help Wanted” listing on a Twitter post on Wednesday, shortly after Joe Biden was sworn in as president.
Hepworth’s post responded to a tweet from an editor at The Verge who complimented the White House’s updated website for a “dark mode” that allows viewers to have a black background for text and photos.
The unusual job posting can be viewed by anyone, technology type or otherwise, using a “developer” tool from the pull-down menu of a web browser such as Chrome or Firefox.
The digital service did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the listing from CNBC.
However, on its own website, the agency said, “US Digital Service is pleased to announce that we have recently received a large number of applications.”
“We’ll review it asap and we’ll respond shortly. Thank you for your patience!”
It wasn’t clear if the applications came from the WhiteHouse.gov code link.
The Digital Service uses a tour-of-service model where employees are hired for a maximum term of four years, with most of them working for a year or two.
The somewhat secret search ad replicates an ad that was also hidden in the HTML for Biden’s website for the President’s transition, buildbackbetter.gov, which was also linked to the digital service’s promotion.
Newsweek reported in November that the anonymous “hacktivist” known as “The Jester” first spotted this Easter egg on the Transition website.
“The Jester” noted in a Twitter post at the time that the hidden message goes back to the practice of British intelligence agencies to recruit potential code breakers by holding difficult crossword and puzzle competitions in newspapers.