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Should Trump be so concerned about tittle-tattle on the Internet?

Today there were two stories about president Donald Trump in the news. That’s two that we noticed, one because it’s in our area and the other because of its sheer importance.

The latter is of course the bombing of Syria and obviously this falls outside the purview of a technology resource like this one. Our parent publication, the New Statesman itself, has published some excellent analysis.

The second, slightly quieter and arguably more geeky story, is on the BBC’s website. The White House is trying to find out who runs an anti-Trump Twitter feed and Twitter itself is suing to protect its confidentiality. This may not be the first time the White House in its current incarnation has done something similar. However, some of the stories in recent weeks are of dubious provenance.

Trump and a fake news cat

Last month the Internet was full of a story about a silly game in which people could make cats scratch a picture of the president, and how the White House had issued a cease and desist notice. How oversensitive we all thought the president was, and how petty – indeed, how alarming that he should be able to find the time to indulge himself in this sort of squabble.

Except, as (for example) Mashable has pointed out, the dates to which the original story pointed out don’t add up. The site to which the developer had to redirect her game was registered before the one that allegedly caused the offence, and the developer also claimed to have received her cease and desist letter on 1 March, some three weeks before the site actually went live.

So it’s safe to assume that example at least is a victim of poor storytelling at best.

The Twitter issue appears to be genuine, however, and still leaves us with a White House that’s so concerned with appearances that it will try to shut down a social media account. It’s no secret that not everybody supports Trump and no surprise that someone is publishing articles counter to his interest.

It’s as if someone in the White House still hadn’t appreciated the enormity of the job that faced them. The gravity of the Syrian situation has now become graphically obvious; the fact that the US government is still determined to chase down every ephemeral Tweet suggests that some people in the organisation are still focused on trivia.