As Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States shortly before noon in Washington, DC on January 20, 2021, Twitter officially transferred the @POTUS account to him. He made his first Tweet shortly after:
There is no time to waste when it comes to tackling the crises we face. That’s why today, I am heading to the Oval Office to get right to work delivering bold action and immediate relief for American families.
— President Biden (@POTUS) January 20, 2021
The Transfer of Institutional White House Twitter Accounts
Following the inauguration, that isn’t the only account transfer that was made.
As Twitter announced in a post on the Twitter Blog, the @Transition46 handle is now @WhiteHouse, @SenKamalaHarris is now @VP, @FLOTUSBiden is now @FLOTUS, and @PressSecPsaki is now @PressSec (POTUS is the official acronym for President of the United States, while FLOTUS is for the First Lady of the United States).
A new handle has also been created for the husband of vice president Kamala Harris, @SecondGentleman.
The institutional account handles do not belong to any one person. Twitter reserves them for official government use by those in the current administration.
Archiving the Previous Administration Accounts
Twitter transferred the institutional accounts of the previous administration to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). The tweets and account history are all publicly available.
The handles of the previous administration have also been changed to reflect their archived status, so Donald Trump’s presidential account is now @POTUS45.
This should not be confused with his personal account, @realDonaldTrump, which remains inaccessible after Twitter banned Trump for good.
That decision has already received much online backlash. A number of critics have come out saying that even if you might not agree with the things Trump tweeted, his Tweets should still be part of the public record because he is a former president.
Trump’s Followers Won’t Be Transferred to Biden
Unlike when Trump took the POTUS Twitter account from 44th president Barack Obama, Biden and the rest of his administration will not be inheriting the followers from the previous incumbent.
Instead, they will maintain the number of followers they had prior to being sworn in.
If you previously followed institutional White House Twitter accounts or relevant Biden or Harris Twitter accounts, then you probably received an in-app alert with the option to follow the new administration.
Biden’s camp slammed this decision. Rob Flaherty, Biden’s digital director, Tweeted out his dissatisfaction shortly after Twitter announced how the transition was going to work:
You can see why Biden’s camp would be upset. After Trump’s administration, the @POTUS and @WhiteHouse Twitter accounts had 33.2 million and 26 million followers, respectively.
Facebook and Instagram, meanwhile, are handling the situation as both platforms always have… ”duplicating” the 11 million followers of the official White House Facebook and Instagram accounts to the new administration.
A New Era in Presidential Tweeting
Now that Biden has control of the @POTUS account, it’s safe to say that we won’t be seeing any outrageous Tweets under that handle anymore. As social media continues to grow, however, we will likely see the government keep using it to reach out to the masses.
Biden clearly understands the power the internet wields. He has used Snapchat for political means twice now: once in September 2020 urging people to vote, and once to invite people to the inauguration.
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