US President-elect Joe Biden’s presidential campaign digital director on Tuesday (December 22) said that Twitter told the Biden team that it would be ‘wiping followers’ from the official POTUS (President of the United States) and White House Twitter accounts before transferring them to the new administration. According to The Hill, the move would be different than what the social media platform did in 2016 while transferring the accounts to now outgoing President Donald Trump’s administration from former President Barack Obama’s administration, said the Biden campaign’s digital director Rob Flaherty.
“In 2016, the Trump admin absorbed all of President Obama’s Twitter followers on @POTUS and @WhiteHouse – at Team 44’s urging,” Flaherty tweeted on Tuesday.
“In 2020, Twitter has informed us that as of right now the Biden administration will have to start from zero.”
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 January 20 – Biden’s 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 For example, people who follow @WhiteHouse will be notified that the account has been archived as @WhiteHouse45 and given the option to follow the new @WhiteHouse account,” Twitter said.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 Hill further reported that the company`s statement comes after a back-and-forth earlier Tuesday between Flaherty and Twitter spokesperson Nicholas Pacilio. However, Pacilio would not confirm Flaherty’s statement on 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, while doubling down on his comment in response to Pacilio’s statement, tweeted 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! 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 Hill reported.
POTUS account has 33.2 million followers and the WhiteHouse account has an additional 26 million followers – which are less than the number of followers Trump (88.5 million) has even if the followers of both accounts are combined.
It was further reported that once Trump leaves the White House, 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, as quoted by The Hill.
“This policy framework applies to current world leaders and candidates for office, and not private citizens when they no longer hold these positions,” the spokesperson added.
Trump may also be at risk of losing his blue checkmark based on Twitter’s revamped verification process set to go into place early next year. Twitter in a draft released said that an account may lose its blue badge if it becomes inactive or is found to be in repeated violation of Twitter’s rules.
“We’ve also added proposed criteria to automatically remove verification from an account if, for example, it’s inactive or if the profile is incomplete, as well as grounds to deny or remove verification from certain qualified accounts that are found to be in repeated violation of the Twitter Rules,” Twitter said in a blog post.