Twitter has told President-elect Joe Biden’s team that President Donald Trump’s followers will not carry over to the official accounts assigned to the new president and White House in January, a reversal from the last transition.
The move would mean the Biden administration’s accounts will start with zero followers, cutting off a way for Biden to instantly reach millions of people who currently follow the official accounts used by Trump. The @POTUS account has more than 33 million followers while @WhiteHouse has 26 million.
“Twitter has informed us that as of right now the Biden administration will have to start from zero,” Biden digital director Rob Flaherty tweeted Tuesday. He later added that the Biden team had, via email, pushed back on the company’s plans and “were told this was unequivocal.”
Twitter spokesman Nick Pacilio said the company “has been in ongoing discussions with the Biden transition team on a number of aspects related to White House account transfers.”
If the accounts are reset to zero, that would be a change from when Trump took office. On Inauguration Day 2017, each had more than 13 million followers. At 12:01 p.m. that day, when Trump was sworn in, the @POTUS account was changed to @POTUS44, an archive of Barack Obama’s official tweets as America’s 44th president.
Followers of that account were also automatically added as followers to the newly created @POTUS account for the Trump administration.
Twitter said that users who follow the current White House accounts will be notified that they are being archived with “45” added to the handles and will be given the option to follow the Biden administration accounts.
The Biden team says the new plan is for @Transition46 to become @WhiteHouse. Followers of @JoeBiden and @WhiteHouse will be encouraged to follow the new account with a one-time front page notification, but will not be migrated over automatically.
The Twitter accounts of the first lady, @FLOTUS, and of the White House press secretary, @PressSec, which have millions of followers each, will also be reset to zero. Biden’s own account, @JoeBiden, has 21.7 million followers.
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