×

White House Comment Line Shut Down, Tells Callers to Use Non-Existent Facebook Messenger Account Instead

The White House has shut down its public comment line some time in the past few weeks, instead telling callers, with an automated message, that they should contact the administration via Facebook Messenger instead. There’s only one problem: Neither the new White House administration nor President Donald Trump seem to currently maintain an active Facebook Messenger account.

The White House had long kept a public comment line, which in recent years had been staffed by volunteers of the Obama administration. In addition, it also offered a number to reach the White House switchboard, where paid staffers would pick up the phone and take messages for the administration.

It’s unclear when exactly the comment line was turned off; Twitter users first reported Monday that both the switchboard and the comment line had been disabled, but news reports suggest that at least the comment line may have been turned off earlier this month as the Obama administration wound down operations.

Callers are instead asked to use a form on the White House website, or contact the administration via Facebook Messenger. The switchboard was subsequently turned on again, but the comment line remains unavailable.

The message doesn’t clarify whether callers should use the official White House Facebook page or President Trump’s Facebook page to do so — but then again, that distinction doesn’t really matter: Neither of the two pages currently offers any messaging capabilities. Trying to find the White House or the President directly from within Facebook’s Messenger app also proved unsuccessful.

Facebook has long offered businesses and other operators of Facebook pages the ability to directly communicate with their consumers via Messenger, including via messages sent directly from the Facebook website. The company added the ability to use bots that can engage in simple conversations via Messenger last April. It doesn’t seem like the White House is currently using any of those technologies.

To add insult to injury, there are currently a number of third-party Facebook accounts that operate under user names wrongfully suggesting an affiliation with the White House. Some of these accounts, including Facebook.com/POTUSDonaldTrump, do use Messenger. However, anyone messaging that particular account actually sends messages to the operator of dormant pro-Trump blog Pundit Today.

Facebook didn’t respond to a request for comment. Variety wasn’t able to reach the White House for comment.

Correction: 1/24: An initial version of this story suggested that reports about the shut-down of the comment line first surfaced on Monday. Variety has since been made aware of reports that suggest the line may have been inoperable since earlier in January. The article was changed throughout to account for this.

Popular on Variety

More Digital

  • Tycho weather app

    This Website Creates Spotify & Apple Music Playlists Based on Your Local Weather

    Electronica musician Tycho launched a clever promotional website for his new album “Weather” this week: Visitors of Tycho’s website can use a web app to generate a playlist based on their local weather. Playlists can be saved to both Spotify and Apple Music, and consist of 25 songs, both from Tycho’s catalog as well as [...]

  • AT&T TV

    AT&T TV: An Unskinny Streaming Bundle That Looks a Lot Like Traditional Pay TV

    AT&T this week launched AT&T TV, a new subscription streaming television service that uses an Android-based internet set-top, in 10 markets. But the way it’s priced and packaged looks very similar to cable and satellite TV services — in other words, AT&T TV isn’t targeted at the cord-cutter crowd. It’s basically designed as a way [...]

  • Sofia Wylie arrives at Variety's Power

    Disney Channel Enlists Duplass Brothers for YouTube Hip-Hop Dance Series Starring Sofia Wylie

    Disney Channel’s first original scripted series made exclusively for release on YouTube is “Shook,” a hip-hop dance short-form series starring Sofia Wylie, produced by Mark Duplass and Jay Duplass. “Shook” will debut Saturday, Sept. 28, on Disney Channel’s YouTube channel. The scripted single-camera show centers on 15-year-old Mia (Wylie), who yearns to dance professionally but [...]

  • YouTube logo

    YouTube Is Getting Rid of Messaging Feature

    YouTube is killing off a feature that allowed users to share videos and other messages with each other. YouTube Messages, which was first introduced in January of 2017, will be turned off by September 18, the company announced this week. “We’re constantly reevaluating our priorities and have decided to discontinue YouTube’s native direct messaging feature [...]

  • Yara Shahidi

    Audible Teams Up With Big Names as Audio-Only Storytelling Expands

    Hobnobbing with the likes of Reese Witherspoon, Kate McKinnon and Yara Shahidi isn’t typically the gloss applied to the cerebral audiobook set, but Audible is putting the humble audio story through its own movie-makeover montage, inking high-profile development deals with entertainment names like “The Walking Dead” comics creator Skybound Entertainment, Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine and Lorne [...]

  • Geneva Wasserman

    Condé Nast Taps Film Veteran Geneva Wasserman as SVP of Motion Pictures

    Condé Nast Entertainment hired Geneva Wasserman as senior vice president of motion pictures, overseeing development of the media company’s slate of feature film properties. Wasserman, a nearly 20-year veteran of the entertainment industry, most recently served as co-founder and executive producer of production firm Project Z Entertainment. She takes over the role at CNE after [...]

  • A view of the SK Telecom

    Korean Regulators Approve Four-Way Streaming Merger

    South Korean regulators have approved the merger of the video services of three local broadcasters and SK Telecom’s streaming app Oksusu. The new service, operating under the name Wavve will launch in September and be Korea’s largest. Proposed in January as a measure to combat the incursion of international video players, the deal was given [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content