12 Subtle Ways Melania’s Booklet Is Actually Different From Michelle Obama’s

by Joseph D. Lyons
Win McNamee/Getty Images News/Getty Images

First Lady Melania Trump launched her first big initiative since the start of her husband's presidency on Monday. Naming the program, "Be Best," Trump has decided to focus on children and many issues they face. To that end, she and the FTC put out a brochure on the best online habits for children. But many have pointed out Trump's brochure is the same as Michelle Obama's. There are a few differences between the two, but otherwise, everything else — literally everything — is exactly the same.

To be fair to Trump, who has been accused of plagiarizing Obama in the past, notably with her speech at the Republican National Convention, it's like that neither first lady wrote the brochure. That was probably left to the FTC, which is the government agency that's in charge of protecting consumers — including children using or buying services online.

In a heated statement from her communications director, Stephanie Grisham, Trump responded to the allegations of plagiarism, stating that they are "baseless." Grisham said in her statement:

After giving a strong speech that was met with a standing ovation and positive feedback, the focus from opposition media has been on an educational booklet, "Talking With Kids About Being Online" produced by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in 2009. 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. 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.

Trump's Be Best website details why her focus on social media and cyberbullying are so important. "Mrs. Trump believes that children should be both seen and heard, and it is our responsibility as adults to educate and reinforce to them that when they are using their voices — whether verbally or online — they must choose their words wisely and speak with respect and compassion," the site reads.

Here's what did change in the new version of the pamphlet.


The Title

One of the most obvious changes is the title of the new brochure. Trump's updated version is "Talking with Kids About Being Online." The old version was "Net Cetera: Chatting with Kids About Being Online."


The Phone Icons


In 2014, the design of smartphones was not quite as ubiquitous. Now the graphics have been updated to look a bit more like iPhones, whereas before they could have been any kind of smartphone, with four buttons along the bottom.


The First Lady's Introduction


Although Obama promoted the first version, she did not write anything in the pamphlet. Trump did. She wrote in part:

The internet — and technology in general — are powerful forces for good. I believe that, together, we can make a real difference in encouraging positive behavior online.


In-App Purchases


Many of the other changes seem to be a sign of the times. New technology has caused the FTC to add a few more warnings, including this one about in-app purchases.




Perhaps understandably — given the first lady's position on the issue and her husband's Twitter usage — the section on cyberbullying has been edited. The message remains the same, but the section on "Tell your kids to talk to you about bullying, too" was edited out. The advice remains largely the same but it has been rearranged in the new version with new subheads like "Encourage your kids to speak up."


"Don't Do It"


The section on "Sexting" from 2014 became "Sexting: Don't Do It" in 2018.


Another Tech Update


A new tip is multi-factor authentication, a security tool seen as more necessary these days.


Password Tips


These became more explicit in the 2018 version. The character minimum and other tips were not included in the older text.


Napster Is So 1990s


The entire warning about P2P software that use torrents to share files including movies and music has been eliminated.


Stronger Warnings On WiFi


There's a much bigger section on setting up your home WiFi network so that it's safe from prying eyes and hackers. That wasn't included in 2014. They also tell you not to access personal or financial information on shared networks — regardless of whether they're secured or not.


Links To More Info


The updated version makes sure you know where to look for more help.


The Back Page


The other stylistic change is the back page, which includes the link to the website for Trump's Be Best initiative. There was no link to anything relating to the Obamas or the former first lady.

Trump's version of advice has a mix of updates. Plenty were needed as technology changes, but the rest seem to give the first lady a larger role in the presentation of the information.