Technonlogy

Here’s how the White House may be keeping Trump off the web

Image: Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images

It’s the digital version of a playpen for an adult who’s incapable of setting his own boundaries.

A new report in The New York Times on Friday talks about President Trump having no access to a normal web browser on his iPhone. It’s a setup designed, according to the report, to limit his exposure to the news media (thus, presumably, avoiding one of his now familiar, venomous, media-hating tweetstorms).  

“[New chief of staff, John F. Kelly] cannot stop Mr. Trump from binge-watching Fox News, which aides describe as the president’s primary source of information gathering,” the Times report states. 

“But Mr. Trump does not have a web browser on his phone, and does not use a laptop, so he was dependent on aides like Stephen K. Bannon, his former chief strategist, to hand-deliver printouts of articles from conservative media outlets.”

No web browser? 

Sure, in the recent months, we’ve written about Trump having only one app on his iPhone — Twitter — but no web browser? Some hardcore users, who are aware that a web browser feature is part of Twittter’s functionality might wonder how this is possible.  

In a post on Saturday, Apple-focused blogger and podcaster Jon Gruber details exactly how this can be accomplished. 

You can remove Safari from the home screen using the Restrictions feature (Settings → General → Restrictions). That still leaves the built-in browser in Twitter, but you can restrict it from reaching any actual websites in the “Allowed Content: Websites” section of the same Restrictions feature. Disable Safari, turn off access to any websites, and you’ve got an iPhone that effectively “doesn’t have a web browser.” 

Gruber even goes on to outline how Trump could prevented from changing the settings back himself. 

Trump can be locked out of changing these settings by the restrictions PIN code, which is wholly separate from the device’s main lock screen code. Or, more likely, these restrictions are managed by White House or Secret Service administrators via MDM.

Of course, we have no confirmation that this is, in fact, what White House aides are doing to Trump’s iPhone. But it’s good to have a clear set of instructions out there ready and easily accessible in the event Kelly suddenly gets jettisoned from the White House like his predecessors, and the replacement needs help reining in tweetstorms. 

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