Presidential Social Media
One of the modern aspects of the peaceful transfer of power that happens when we elect a new President of the United States is the transfer of social media accounts. This was done for the first time when the Obama White House transferred to the Trump White House in 2016.
In fact, the Obama White House laid out a plan for social media transfer before the election happened that year. A key part of that plan involved transferring the followers of those social media accounts, because they were not following the person, they were following the office. Building a following takes time, and the Obama White House apparently wanted to keep that digital infrastructure intact, so it would continue to grow.
Changing the Rules
But somehow, folded into the chaos of ending the Trump administration and starting the Biden administration, Twitter decided to change the way that works. Twitter started an account for President Elect Biden that will transfer to @POTUS on Inauguration Day, but will not be transferring any previous @POTUS followers to the new account. This decision also includes the institutional accounts for @WhiteHouse, @VP, @FLOTUS, @PressSec, and the new @SecondGentleman.
There has been no reason given for why the followers of such institutional accounts will not be retained. Twitter has stated that it will be archiving the previous administration’s tweets as @POTUS45, just as it did with @POTUS44. Every other major social media platform with a Presidential institutional account will be retaining followers, just as they did 4 years ago. The new administration has been urged to tweet about the new accounts on all platforms to “build a following”. A following that had previously been built starting in 2015 with Obama and is suddenly erased for no discernible reason.
The Biden transition team has pushed back to Twitter about this, but the issue has not changed. It is mystifying as to why Twitter would make such a decision, and it’s a decision of the company, not from any administration. As much attention as Twitter has had with regards to Trump and his antics over the past 4 years, it doesn’t seem like causing a transition debate would be a good idea. It will be interesting to see how they handle the next transition, and if a reason for this decision ever manages to come forth.
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