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Team Biden kills the White House petition page

URL now redirects visitors to the main White House home page.

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Joe Biden
Joe Biden
Tom Williams / Contributor / Getty Images
Updated: January 28, 2021 - 5:12pm

The Facts Inside Our Reporter’s Notebook

Unhappy with the president? Think others are, too? Then head over to the website petitions.whitehouse.gov and state your complaint.

Well, that used to be the case. The site, once filled with tons of petitions blasting Donald Trump as president, is now gone. Instead, the URL redirects visitors to the main Biden White House page. Searching the page for the word "petition" brings up no petition page.

The page, dubbed "We the People," launched Sept, 22, 2011, under then-President Barack Obama. Under the terms of the page, petitions that met a threshold of signatures would then be reviewed by administration officials, who would prepare and issue official responses.

The site could sometimes be silly. In November 2012, a petition urged the government to create a Death Star as an economic stimulus and job creation measure. It drew  more than 25,000 signatures, enough to qualify for an official response.

The White House response: 

  • The construction of the Death Star has been estimated to cost more than $850,000,000,000,000,000. We're working hard to reduce the deficit, not expand it.
  • The Administration does not support blowing up planets.
  • Why would we spend countless taxpayer dollars on a Death Star with a fundamental flaw that can be exploited by a one-man starship?

But the site was also used for more serious issues. After the school shooting in Newtown, Conn., on Dec. 14, 2012, a petition for new gun-control measures drew 100,000 signatures within 24 hours.

Sometimes, the petition achieved results.

In February 2013, a petition started by OpenSignal co-founder and digital rights activist Sina Khanifar reached the 100,000-signature threshold required for a response from the White House. The Obama administration quickly issued a response urging the Federal Communications Commission and Congress to legalize cell phone unlocking. 

A year later, Congress passed the Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act, the first legislation driven by an online petition. The bill was signed into law by Obama on Aug. 1, 2014.

Yet after Trump took office, the site became hyper-partisan.

CNN reported that within hours of Trump taking office two petitions had been created calling on him to release his tax return and fully divest from his business interests.

A slew of other partisan petitions followed.

The Trump administration in December 2017 temporarily shut down the page with an intent to replace it with a "new platform that would save taxpayers more than $1 million a year," the BBC reported.

But Trump reopened the page.

Now, it's gone.

"It was taken down by the Biden administration on January 21, 2021," according to Wikipedia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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