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Democrat presidential nominee Joe Biden’s transition team is reportedly upset that Twitter is — amazingly enough — planning to wipe the White House’s Twitter accounts clean if and when President Donald Trump leaves office.
This would force Biden’s potential White House to start from scratch versus with the combined nearly 60 million accounts that are currently following the @POTUS and @WhiteHouse Twitter accounts.
According to CNN, when the president’s administration took over the accounts from former President Barack Hussein Obama’s administration, they enjoyed a combined follower count of only about 26 million. With Trump in office, the White House’s Twitter followers more than doubled.
Biden’s team is reportedly so upset over losing the current White House’s nearly 60 million followers that it submitted a lengthy, full-fledged statement to CNN about it.
“Twitter’s reluctance to transfer millions of followers from the Trump Administration to the Biden Administration unnecessarily politicizes what otherwise should be a routine transfer of communication from one administration to the next,” the statement by Biden transition team spokesperson Cameron French reportedly reads.
“The Obama-Biden Administration built out social media accounts and followings that were handed over to the Trump Administration immediately and fully upon taking office. This wasn’t about politics, it was about ensuring no disruption in the ability of the executive branch of government to directly communicate its policies to the country.”
It’s true that the Obama-Biden administration built out the White House’s initial followers.
In 2020, Twitter has informed us that as of right now the Biden administration will have to start from zero. https://t.co/wj1R02SmiK
— Rob Flaherty (@Rob_Flaherty) December 22, 2020
“President Obama is the first ‘social media president’: the first to have @POTUS on Twitter,” the Obama administration proudly noted days before the 2016 election.
On Inauguration Day 2017, the account switched to then-newly elected President Donald Trump’s ownership.
“At 12:01 p.m., as Trump took the oath of office, the official presidential account switched to President Trump from Obama, who was the first president to use Twitter. All tweets from Obama’s term as president are archived under a new account @POTUS44,” NPR reported at the time.
“Twitter will automatically switch all 13 million followers of the Obama-era @POTUS account to follow both @POTUS44 and the new @POTUS account for Trump. But because Trump’s presidential Twitter account is essentially brand new, the switch will take a little while.”
The only thing Twitter wiped clean at the time were the account’s tweets. Everything else remained the same, including its follower count.
After the switch, Trump’s team apparently linked @POTUS to the president’s personal account, @realDonaldTrump, making it so that every time @realDonaldTrump tweets, the tweet is retweeted by @POTUS.
Case in point:
As of December 2020, @realDonaldTrump had ballooned to over 88 million followers, giving it an audience greater than that of the White House.
Continuing his statement, French made sure to direct the transition team’s anger over the Twitter debacle onto Twitter, not Trump.
“Especially in times of crisis, the American people deserve access to information in a variety of forms including social media. Twitter has failed to articulate a clear reason for why they have chosen this abrupt reversal in policies, a decision that flies in the face of how other digital platforms are handling this transition,” he said.
Likewise, transition tweet official Rob Flaherty reiterated on Twitter that the social media network’s decision was “Twitter’s decision.”
Just to be clear: this is Twitter’s decision, not Trump’s.https://t.co/7jqhLmbX9e
— Rob Flaherty (@Rob_Flaherty) December 22, 2020
This isn’t to say the president wouldn’t support this move. Of course, given his ongoing legal challenges of the 2020 presidential election results, he’d likely prefer that there be no Twitter transition at all.
Twitter nevertheless made it clear in a statement last month that it’ll be transferring the White House’s accounts to Biden’s team on Jan. 20th, regardless of any legal challenges.
“[E]ven should Trump continue to contest his loss and fight his removal from the White House on Jan. 20, he won’t have a say in whether he hangs on to one of the presidency’s main digital assets,” Politico reported at the time, citing a Twitter spokesperson.
“Twitter said its representatives will meet with Biden-Harris transition officials in the coming months to discuss the particulars of how the new administrations will use Twitter.”
— Bo Snerdley (@BoSnerdley) November 22, 2020
These meetings are clearly not going well.
“Twitter will notify followers of these accounts to provide context that the content will be archived and allow them the choice to follow the Biden administration’s new accounts,” a Twitter spokesperson told CNN this week.
“For example, people who follow @WhiteHouse will be notified that the account has been archived as @WhiteHouse45 and given the option to follow the new @WhiteHouse account.”
And so the “transition” won’t be automatic like last time, and well, the president’s ardent supporters are loving the irony of it all.
BUT YOU WON 81 MILLION VOTES! Should be easy, right?? @joebiden
— BriziDoesIt (@PersianKiss) December 24, 2020
I’m sure he can get all of those followers just from people who voted for him
— Tench Coxe (@CoxsTench) December 24, 2020
Joe didn’t build that😂
— Derp67 (@Derp76) December 24, 2020
No problem with followers if he can get 81 million votes. 🙄
Not sure how the dead ones will hit follow, but they did manage to vote!
Or how some will follow multiple times… I am sure twitter will help him with this as they did for the election.
— TheBunnyGuy (@mdst88) December 24, 2020
The joke — or sincere belief for some of them — is that Biden’s worried about amassing followers because he doesn’t actually enjoy widespread support, despite his ostensible “landslide” victory in the 2020 presidential election.
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