Biden campaign says Twitter will wipe POTUS account’s followers
The digital director for President-elect Joe Biden’s presidential campaign said Tuesday that Twitter told the Biden team it will be wiping followers from the official POTUS and WhiteHouse Twitter accounts before transferring them to the Biden administration.
The move would be different than what the social media platform did in 2016 when transferring the accounts to President Trump’s administration from former President Obama’s, Rob Flaherty, the Biden campaign’s digital director, said.
“In 2016, the Trump admin absorbed all of President Obama’s Twitter followers on @POTUS and @WhiteHouse — at Team 44’s urging,” Flaherty tweeted Tuesday. “In 2020, Twitter has informed us that as of right now the Biden administration will have to start from zero.”
Obama was the nation’s 44th president.
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
Twitter later released a statement confirming that the “@WhiteHouse, @POTUS, @VP, @FLOTUS, @PressSec, @Cabinet, and @LaCasaBlanca” accounts will not automatically retain their existing followers after they are transferred to the Biden administration on Inauguration Day.
“Instead, 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. For example, people who follow @WhiteHouse will be notified that the account has been archived as @WhiteHouse45 and given the option to follow the new @WhiteHouse account,” Twitter said.
The company’s statement comes after a back-and-forth earlier Tuesday between Flaherty and Twitter spokesperson Nicholas Pacilio.
Pacilio would not confirm Flaherty’s statement Tuesday afternoon and said the social media platform is still speaking with the Biden transition team about the transfer of the accounts.
“Twitter has been in ongoing discussions with the Biden transition team on a number of aspects related to White House account transfers,” Pacilio said in a statement.
Flaherty doubled down on his comment in response to Pacilio’s statement, tweeting that he’s “happy to share the email thread where we pushed back and we were told this was unequivocal.”
Pacilio responded, “Hey Rob, no need i’m familiar with it!”
Asked for further comment on whether the Biden transition team is pushing Twitter to transfer the followers from the accounts, a Biden spokesperson pointed to Flaherty’s tweets.
According to the Biden transition team, Twitter will issue a one-time notification suggesting users who follow Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on Twitter follow the “transition46” account which will be rebranded as the WhiteHouse account, but the POTUS, FLOTUS and “PressSec” accounts will start at zero followers.
The POTUS account has 33.2 million followers and the WhiteHouse account has an additional 26 million followers.
Even combined, the two official accounts have fewer followers than the 88.5 million President Trump has on his personal account.
Trump has continued to tweet from his personal account offering unsubstantiated allegations about his electoral defeat that have not been supported in court.
The claims have frequently put him in conflict with Twitter, which has labeled a number of Trump’s posts for containing claims about election fraud that are “disputed.”
Once he leaves office, Trump could see some of his future posts be deleted.
A spokesperson for Twitter previously confirmed that Trump’s account will be treated like any other once he leaves office.
“Twitter’s approach to world leaders, candidates and public officials is based on the principle that people should be able to choose to see what their leaders are saying with clear context. This means that we may apply warnings and labels, and limit engagement to certain Tweets,” the spokesperson said in November. “This policy framework applies to current world leaders and candidates for office, and not private citizens when they no longer hold these positions.”
Trump may also be at risk of losing his blue check mark based on Twitter’s revamped verification process set to go into place early next year.
Twitter last month released a draft of its new verification policy criteria, including detailing ways an account may lose its blue badge.
The company said an account may be unverified if the individual is no longer in the position the account was initially verified for, such as an elected official leaving office, as well as if the account repeatedly violates Twitter’s rules.
–Updated at 5:04 p.m.
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