As you may recall, when President Obama left office in 2017, Twitter transferred the @POTUS account to President Trump. According to Business Insider, the change enabled President Trump to inherit almost 14 million followers who originally followed the @POTUS account when it belonged to President Obama.
That’s not going to happen when President-elect Joe Biden becomes President. Rob Flaherty, Digital Director for Joe Biden tweeted: “In 2016, the Trump admin absorbed all of President Obama’s Twitter followers on @POTUS and @WhiteHouse – at Team 44’s urging. In 2020, Twitter has informed us that as of right now the Biden administration will have to start from zero.”
The Biden transition team told Business Insider that the @POTUS, @FLOTUS, and @PressSec accounts will all start at zero followers. Twitter will send a one-time notification to users that follow @JoeBiden or @KamalaHarris to suggest they follow Biden’s transition team account, @transition46. That account will be rebranded as @whitehouse, according to the Biden team.
The Wall Street Journal reported that Twitter will reset those accounts’ passwords and share ownership with the National Archives and Records Administration.
The National Archives confirmed it will receive and archive content posted to those official accounts. The @POTUS account will be renamed @POTUS45 and will be frozen as-is on Twitter. Mr. Trump will maintain control of his personal @realDonaldTrump account post-presidency. When President Obama left office, the account handles were changed to @ObamaWhiteHouse and @POTUS44.
Overall, I think it is a good thing that Twitter will have the Twitter accounts of the Biden Administration start at zero. I remember feeling confused and frustrated when @POTUS shifted from President Obama to the Trump Administration. I chose to follow @POTUS when Obama was president, and didn’t understand that it would automatically shift to President Trump. In my opinion, the current followers of @POTUS will likely be very loud and angry if @POTUS shifted over to Joe Biden after he is inaugurated.
Starting the accounts of the incoming administration at zero could help prevent unnecessary harassment from Trump’s grumpiest supporters. It would also give people the opportunity to chose whether or not they want to follow the Twitter accounts connected to the Biden Administration. Having that option would likely make for better, healthier, conversation about whatever those accounts tweet.