Update: White House press assistant Giovanna Coia told the L.A. Times that the public phone lines are not down indefinitely, explaining that "we’re still learning how to work our computers.” And it's a good thing the change isn't permanent, because Variety reports that neither President Trump's Facebook page nor the official White House page actually offers a Facebook messenger option. This story was originally published on January 23, 2017. We have a President who is maybe a little too excited about social media. This much we knew already. When he's not Twitter-blasting journalists and actors (of both the Broadway and Hollywood varieties), he's tweeting at the wrong Ivanka and shutting down government social media for sharing actual facts rather than, you know, those much-preferred "alternative facts." And now, it appears that this passion for all things social media has led President Donald Trump to shut down the White House's public phone lines. But hey, no worries, just shoot him a Facebook message instead, dude.
Mashable reports that the White House's comments line — the number you could call during presidencies past, to make your voice heard by those at the very top (or at the very least speak to an actual human who could direct you to the correct White House office) — is now closed. Instead of reaching said human when you call, you now get a recorded message asking you to instead leave a comment on the White House's website or send one via Facebook Messenger. It's all well and good for the government to hop on the millennial media bandwagon; after all, the White House is on Snapchat now! But a public phone line is not a place for sharing fun selfies or filtered video tours of the West Wing. It's a place where average American citizens can go to speak their minds and actively participate in our country's government in some small way. Is someone who's homeless really going to log onto Facebook to make her voice heard by the White House? What about someone who's disabled or elderly? Sure, it's possible. But, as Mashable points out, 13% of Americans don't use the internet. And shutting down the public phone line that has been an accessible go-to for so many years seems like a dangerous step towards further marginalizing the already marginalized.