Donald Trump was inaugurated as the 45th president of the United States over the weekend, and very shortly after the taking oath of office, his administration began the fairly new and complicated digital transition process.
It’s still unclear if President Trump knows how to use a computer himself, but no matter: His administration immediately took over Obama’s websites, including whitehouse.gov, which now features a photo of a Trump rally, as well as the office’s official social media accounts. (Don’t worry, however — Obama’s digital footprints will be archived.)
Over at whitehouse.gov, Obama’s action plans for issues like climate change, health care, and civil rights immediately disappeared. The new administration also removed the whitehouse.com/espanol website created in 2012 in an effort to attract more Spanish-speaking voters. Similarly, the whitehouse.gov/lgbt website launched in 2011 to engage with LGBT communities disappeared, too.
Visiting whitehouse.gov/lgbt produced this error message shortly after Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States. (image: whitehouse.gov)
The new White House website now features a list of top issues the Trump administration will look to tackle. At the top of the list is the “America First Energy Plan,” which explains how the new President will work to eliminate the Climate Action Plan and the Waters of the U.S. rule, among other things. (Scott Pruitt, Trump’s pick to lead the EPA, sued the agency over these policies.)
“For too long, we’ve been held back by burdensome regulations on our energy industry,” the energy plan says. “President Trump will refocus the EPA on its essential mission of protecting our air and water.”
Besides energy, the “issues” page also touches on the military, foreign policy, and the ominous-sounding “standing up for our law enforcement community.” Oh, and there’s also a new page for First Lady Melania Trump, which tucks in some promotion for her QVC line at the bottom.
One of the most noticeable changes was to the @POTUS Twitter account, which suddenly had no tweets, but has been slowly building up its follower count. (When this story was published, the account had about 5.3 million followers, compared to Obama’s 13.7 million.)
A couple of hours after the inauguration, the Trump administration had still not yet tweeted from the @POTUS account. However, that didn’t stop President Trump sending a message to the American people. About one hour after taking office, he sent this tweet from his personal account:
January 20th 2017, will be remembered as the day the people became the rulers of this nation again.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 20, 2017
Tweets made from the account during the Obama administration have been archived under the new handle, @POTUS44, with the help of the National Archives and Records Administration. The full list of the Obama White House’s archived social media accounts is here, and the Obama administration’s full White House website is now living at obamawhitehouse.archives.gov.
For what it’s worth, the digital transition is relatively new process for US presidents. Many of the official White House social media accounts were created during the past eight years by the Obama administration.
As explained in an October 2016 blog post on the White House website, the Trump administration now has full own ownership over Twitter accounts, including @WhiteHouse, @POTUS, @VP, @FLOTUS, @PressSec, and @Cabinet. It will also receive username and followers of the Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, Tumblr, Snapchat and Flickr accounts. The accounts are set to keep their respective followers and subscribers, but will come with no posts or photos. At the time this article was published, some of the accounts had not yet been scrubbed of old posts.
With all of this change brought to the White House official accounts, perhaps we’ll soon find out what Donald meant when he said “the cyber is so big.” For now, we can only hope for the best.