Friday 28 April 2017

What happens to Barack Obama's @Potus Twitter handle when he leaves White House?

U.S. President Barack Obama. Photo: Yuri Gripas/Reuters
U.S. President Barack Obama. Photo: Yuri Gripas/Reuters

Barack Obama will be logging out of the @POTUS Twitter account for good when he leaves office, the White House said on Monday, as it announced plans for a  peaceful transition of power in the social media age.

Mr Obama's official @POTUS account will be taken over by the next president while his tweets will move over to a new handle, @POTUS44, maintained by the National Archives and Records Administration.

Similar changes will take place with Mr Obama's Facebook and Instagram accounts, along with other Twitter accounts, including Michelle Obama's @FLOTUS and Joe Biden's @VP accounts.

"The handle @POTUS will be made available to the 45th President of the United States on January 20, 2017," deputy chief digital officer Kori Schulman wrote, fittingly, in a blog post.

The new president, whoever he or she is, will inherit a potent digital megaphone. The @POTUS handle alone has more than 11 million followers, and the White House more than 12 million.

The White House said it had three goals for the digital transition:

First, all the material published online during Mr Obama's presidency will be preserved with the National Archives and Records Administration, just as previous administrations have done with handwritten notes, faxes and emails.

Second, materials will continue to be accessible on the platforms where they were created, allowing for real-time access.

 

Third, the White House is working to ensure the next president can continue to use and develop the digital assets the Obama administration has created to connect directly with the people they serve.

Mr Obama is leaving office with far more digital content to archive than any previous president. The administration has logged nearly 30,000 @WhiteHouse tweets and photos and thousands of hours of video footage. Eventually, they'll be available to download in compact form, such as zip files.

The White House also said in a blog post that it's inviting students, data engineers and others to come up with creative ways to archive the digital content and make it useful and available. The administration said it will make the material available early to people who are interested in building something for the public.

— Patrick W. Gavin (@pwgavin) October 24, 2016  

"From Twitter bots and art projects to printed books and query tools, we're open to it all," the White House said. 

Whoever takes over the Twitter account will already be adept at the social media service. Both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have used it extensively for their presidential campaigns, with the candidates boasting 10.1 million and 12.8 million followers respectively.

Mr Trump's use of Twitter has come under particular scrutiny after launching an early-morning tweet-storm against a former Miss Universe winner. She was far from being the sole target of the Republican nominee's wrath, however, with The New York Times publishing a list of the 282 people, place and things he has insulted on Twitter. 

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