I was motivated to write about governmental data erasure yesterday because of an Internet Archive tweet regarding the preservation of USDA documents, whose deletion seemed clearly related to the Trump administration’s erasure efforts in other areas, but I was wrong. My general point about politics and information still stands, but I should have sourced examples of data erasure and rescue more thoroughly. Moreover, in the apparently clearest-cut case of the EPA, there might be a gap between initial Trump administration impulses and present reality. Even that situation is in flux, as the sum of the following examples from generally reliable news sources suggests:
- “Trump White House Orders E.P.A. to Delete Climate-Change Web Page” (Vanity Fair, January 25);
- “Trump administration backs off plan to scrub climate pages from EPA website” (Washington Post, January 25); and
- “The EPA Has Started to Remove Obama-Era Information”. (Scientific American, February 2).
The uncertainty, even chaos of the past two weeks has negative implications for the attitude of many toward the media, even if the chief beneficiary of this confusion, the Trump White House, is also its author. In such circumstances, it is especially important for all of us to be as conscientious as possible when using and propagating information. I will certainly try to do better.