- The Daily Beast reported the Trump administration deleted references to “climate change”, “LGBTQ”, “health care” and “civil rights” and other topics from the whitehouse.gov web site.
- Fake news and “real” news web sites promoted the theory that these topics were deleted as part of an upcoming period of darkness under the Trump administration.
- My Twitter feed was absolutely filled with links to these stories.
- Reality: As part of the change in administrations, the U.S. National Archives archived the Obama record at 12 noon, and cleared out the old web site, after which new content will be added. This pre-announced change was made by the National Archives and not by the Trump Administration.
- This works as fake news propaganda by leaving out critical information (the National Archives and the hand off process so that “What you see is all there is”), and the logical fallacy of “if something is not stated, then X must be true”. In this case, a lot of people imagined what they wanted to believe was true.
This was seized on by social media “outrage culture” that the Trump Administration abolished all of these topics and policies. This became “confirmation” that the new administration will be anti-gay, anti-access to health care, will seek a reduction in civil rights, and so on. Tweet, Like and Share and you’ve got a full scale social media firestorm.
The conclusion, however, is based in incomplete reporting. Once again: This pre-announced change was made by the National Archives and not by the Trump Administration as part of the hand off of the web site from the Obama administration to the Trump administration.
Certainly, there will be different policies on these subjects in the future – but let us respond to reality rather than hallucinations of future policies that are not yet specified.
The hand off process was not secret but was well known in advance:
- The Obama Administration discussed the hand off process beforehand.
- Politico discussed the switch over in an article published before Inauguration Day.
- Snopes.com confirmed the story is mostly false – the only true part is the web site was reset without much content. Snopes points out the reasons given by the fake news reports were wrong.
- CNN describes the hand off of whitehouse.gov accurately.
- NY Times covers the issue too but mangles the entire story.
- The BBC gets the story mostly correct.
- CNet tech news mangles the story into fake news.
Note – our web site is not intended to do what Snopes.com does. Our interest is in how propaganda is distributed on social media to influence large groups of people. This story is a fascinating example of how a badly reported story – to the point of being fake news – morphs into a social media propaganda meme.