Twitter officially launched in 2006, but Presidential tweets didn’t come into vogue until after Barack Obama took office in 2008. Today, the account for @POTUS (and the equally blue-check-official @FLOTUS) posts regularly and carries millions of followers. And just like every other responsibility and privilege associated with the office of president, there’s now an official transition plan in place for this, too.
Yesterday, the White House published “The Digital Transition: How the Presidential Transition Works in the Social Media Age,” essentially outlining the plan for how to preserve the history of presidential social media while ensuring the accounts transition securely and smoothly to President Obama’s successor (whether or not they choose to follow in his BlackBerry and then Android footsteps).
For the headlining Twitter accounts, all media posted by the Obama administration through @POTUS will transition to a new handle, @POTUS44. The same will happen for accounts like @FLOTUS, @PressSec, and @VP. The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) will maintain these new “44” accounts to preserve the digital record. On January 20, 2017, the newly elected president and his or her administration will then receive access to the @POTUS et al accounts, which will all maintain their current follower counts.
The White House notes it will take similar approaches to archive old accounts and provide access to the currently active handles on platforms such as Medium, Tumblr, Instagram, and YouTube. Due to some combination of timing and digital comfort, the Obama administration embraced these means of communication like none before. As yesterday’s post notes, they were the “first to go live on Facebook from the Oval Office, the first to answer questions from citizens on YouTube, and the first to use a filter on Snapchat.” (The White House is also old-school, establishing a presence on things like MySpace and Flickr.)
The post doesn’t mention anything about 2FA on these accounts or any extra security they may embrace beyond what’s available to the rest of us social users. But the Obama administration does note that they want all this material to be accessible in real-time to anyone who’s interested in viewing or using it. To that end, the post states:
We’re inviting the American public—from students and data engineers, to artists and researchers—to come up with creative ways to archive this content and make it both useful and available for years to come. From Twitter bots and art projects to printed books and query tools, we’re open to it all. The White House will make our social media data available early to people who are interested in building something for the public. For more information on how to submit an idea, click here.