Any website worth its code has a sitemap. The list of text links at the bottom of each page is used by search engines like Google to direct people to relevant pages with the information they seek. Those text links are the rafters of a website, and in politics, they can show just how different one president is from the next. And if the incoming president wants to build a border wall between here and Mexico, don’t expect the White House website to be available in Spanish.
At 11:23 a.m. Eastern on Friday, this is what WhiteHouse.gov looked like, as captured by the Wayback Machine, the web page recording service done by the people at archive.org. The “ISSUES” column is the longest, with 29 individual issues broken into sections and ranging in subject from “Rural” to “Women” to “Cuba” to “Technology.” The sitemap also includes at the bottom an “En Español” option. In all, it contains 114 links.
As of right now, 1 p.m. Eastern Friday, the sitemap for WhiteHouse.gov looks much, much shorter with just 38 links. Gone is the “En Espanol” option, which given Trump’s opinion of Spanish-speaking people, doesn’t immediately seem like an oversight. While shorter, Trump’s branding and policy positions do show up: There are links to pages titled “America First Energy Plan,” “America First Foreign Policy,” “Bringing Back Jobs And Growth,” “Making Our Military Strong Again,” and so on.
Switching all the digital accounts from one president to another is a big job and so is archiving the digital presence an outgoing president.
It’s also probable that some of the digital platforms set up by Obama — inarguably America’s first social media president — won’t be touched and possibly deleted by Trump. There’s the White House’s Spanish-language Twitter account: @LaCasaBlanca. While Obama and his predecessor, Texan George W. Bush, spoke Spanish with varying levels of fluency, Trump’s only ever uttered “bad Hombres” while insulting immigrants during a debate. (The same account under Obama has been archived here: @LaCasaBlanca44.)
The sitemap is an old part of the internet but it can still reveal a lot.
Update, Monday, January 23:
“We are continuing to build out the website,” White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told reporters on Monday when asked about it. “We’ve got the IT folks working overtime on that now.”
Spicer also said of Trump: “I think his relationship with the Hispanic community is going to be great.”