Just after noon on January 20, the version of WhiteHouse.gov used by the Trump Administration was frozen in time, and the content was moved to a server maintained by the National Archives.
The new site — with a picture of Joe Biden front and center — was one of the first visible signs that the transition of power was in full effect. And immediately, the redesign became the first opportunity for the Biden Administration to live up to their values.
When Trump became president, his team removed the Spanish-language translation of White House content. As soon as the Biden site went live, it was back.
The new “Contact Us” form asks site visitors for their preferred pronouns for the first time.
The Biden team also introduced a high contrast mode and a toggle to make the text larger, creating a more accessible site for more Americans.
On the campaign trail, Joe Biden made a consistent promise — he would be a president for all Americans.
Making the White House website more accessible to everyone is just one small way he’s living up to that idea.
Throughout the election, Biden made it clear that he also saw a specific obligation wrapped up in that initial promise. “I will work as hard for those who didn’t vote for me,” he would say, “as those who did.”
Unfortunately, an under-noticed transition decision by Twitter will make it a little harder for Biden to accomplish his goal.
When he became President, Joe Biden inherited the official social media handles used by the government on all the major platforms. Along with access to the official accounts, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube also transferred the existing audience of followers. Four years earlier, when Trump inherited @WhiteHouse and @POTUS from the Obama Administration, Twitter did the same.
But for reasons clear only to themselves, this time Twitter required President Biden to start from scratch.
That loss of access has meaning. It’s not about vanity or pride. It means that the White House message reaches fewer people — at least for now. In particular, it means that President Biden has less opportunity to speak directly to Donald Trump’s supporters and make his case.
It was a deeply misguided step for a platform that pledges to be a place where people “get the full story.”
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