By Prem Calvin Prashad

Shortly after the inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States last Friday, the White House’s online presence, including whitehouse.gov, transitioned to the new administration, with some notable exceptions. Webpages on Civil Rights, LGBT rights, Climate Change were moved to the archives of the Obama White House.

Also gone were initiatives, such as White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, set up in 2009 to reach out to the growing Asian-American community. Spanish language social media sites had no discreet plan for continuity in the new administration.

The new administration broadly identified its key issues as “America First” energy and foreign policy, “jobs and growth,” a strong military, support for law enforcement and better trade deals.

In the archives of Jan 22, 2009, the incoming President Obama identified 24 issues, including Civil Rights, Ethics, Immigration, Poverty and Women, with detailed accompanying policy recommendations.

Though the disappearance of these issues from the presidential website does not necessarily mean the current president will ignore these issues, for opponents, noting the President’s campaign rhetoric and platform, it appears to confirm that they can expect civil rights and immigration protections to stagnate, or even be rolled back under the new administration.

Immigration policy is mentioned only within the context of strengthening law enforcement.

Aside from more promises to “build a border wall,” promises to deport undocumented persons with “violent criminal records” are in line with the previous administration’s approach, if not more lenient, as the Obama administration routinely deported non-violent offenders.

There is no mention of visa reform – the primary way undocumented persons come into the country, nor cracking down on employers that hire them.

Whereas the Obama administration identified employment discrimination, racial profiling and hate crime statues as civil rights issues in 2009, there is no mention of civil rights on the contemporary whitehouse.gov.

The notion of transitioning the online presence of the presidency is a relatively new concept, and almost certainly the first time nine presidential social media accounts from Twitter to Flickr had to be transitioned to an incoming president. Included was the Spanish language @LaCasaBlanca Twitter account. The former president and first lady Michelle Obama, as well as former Vice President Joe Biden and wife, Dr. Jill Biden, kept their accounts, with a distinctive “44” added to distinguish them from the current administration. For example, @POTUS becomes @POTUS44. A number of White House officials will be similarly identified.

For the new Trump administration, which harnessed social media in a populist uprising, first against the Republican Party and later against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, it remains to be seen how the new president and staff intend to utilize social media to engage Americans and disseminate policy.

Though there is a dearth of information and specifics on what President Trump seeks to accomplish over the next 100 days, there remains the possibility that the issues section will be expanded over the next few weeks.

However, with most experts on the presidency still planning an effective transition, most Americans will simply have to make due with President Trump’s signature lines – “believe me!”

The Internet Archive, also known as the “Wayback Machine” is accessed at web.archive.org and can be used to view past versions of websites.

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