Melania Trump ‘Be Best’ pamphlet was first published by Obama’s FTC

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A booklet published on Monday as part of first lady Melania Trump’s “Be Best” campaign copies a document first published by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) during the Obama administration.

Trump had released the PDF as part of her Be Best initiative on Monday, the goal of which is to “encourage positive social, emotional, and physical habits” among children and focus on their well-being online.

The pamphlet, meant for parents, talks about addressing children’s conduct online, including cyberbullying and how to navigate inappropriate content. {mosads}

Internet archives show that the brochure was originally shared on the Be Best campaign website as a booklet by Trump and the FTC but was later changed to show that it was simply “promoted” by the first lady and written by the FTC.

The first version read: “Parents, click here to read Talking with Kids about Being Online, a booklet by First Lady Melania Trump and the Federal Trade Commission.”

The updated website reads: “Parents, click here to read ‘Talking with Kids about Being Online,’ a Federal Trade Commission booklet, promoted by First Lady Melania Trump.”

However, the change came too late for those who had already noticed that the brochure was nearly identical to a brochure titled “Net Cetera — Chatting with Kids About Being Online,” which was put out by the FTC in 2014.


Both PDFs use similar graphics and design, as well as language. Some areas have been updated with changes, such as a subject heading that was changed from “Sexting: Don’t Do It” to just “Sexting.” The two booklets also have different introductions. 

The first lady’s office released a statement on Tuesday criticizing “opposition media” for focusing on the booklet.

“Mrs. Trump agreed to add Be Best branding and distribute the booklet in an effort to use her platform to amplify the positive message within,” the statement said. “As she said in yesterday’s speech, she is going to use Be Best to promote people and organizations to encourage conversation and replication, and helping the FTC distribute this booklet is just one small example.

“Despite providing countless outlets with ample background, information, and on-the-record comments from the FTC, some media have chosen to take a day meant to promote kindness and positive efforts on behalf of children, to instead lob baseless accusations towards the First Lady and her new initiatives,” it said.

The statement also quoted Nathaniel Wood, the associate director of the FTC’s Consumer and Business Education Division.

“We were excited that Mrs. Trump distributed this important information about staying safe online,” Wood said in the statement. “We look forward to continuing to work with her and others to help parents and children use the Internet safely and responsibly.”

Trump has faced criticism for apparent plagiarism in the past, most notably at the Republican National Convention in 2016, where she nearly copied a paragraph from former first lady Michelle Obama’s 2008 Democratic National Convention speech.

Updated at 11:31 a.m.

Tags Melania Trump Michelle Obama
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