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Throughout his term, President Donald Trump’s Twitter account has been one of his most prized online platforms, and for good reason. It essentially allowed him to say whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted with just a single push of a button. With his time in office coming to a close in just a few short weeks, many Americans are wondering: Will President-elect Joe Biden get Donald Trump’s @POTUS Twitter followers? Things are a little more complicated than they were in 2017.
As of Dec. 24, the @POTUS Twitter account has over 33.2 million followers. However, Twitter spokesperson Nick Pacilio confirmed in a Dec. 22 statement to CNN that White House accounts "will not automatically retain their existing followers." Pacilio explained that instead, Twitter users who follow any White House accounts will be alerted when the accounts are being retired, and will be given the option to follow Biden’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"For example, people who follow @WhiteHouse will be notified that the account has been archived as @WhiteHouse45 and given the option to follow the new @WhiteHouse account," Pacilio told CNN. Essentially, Twitter is starting Biden off at zero followers, meaning he’ll have to gather them from the ground up in 2021.
Unsurprisingly, the incoming Biden administration isn’t thrilled. "Twitter’s reluctance to transfer millions of followers from the Trump Administration to the Biden Administration unnecessarily politicizes what otherwise should be a routine transfer of communication from one administration to the next," said Cameron French, a Biden-Harris transition team spokesperson, in a Dec. 23 statement to CNN.
The Obama administration was responsible for building out the notorious social media accounts in 2015, and in 2017, the incoming Trump administration inherited them — along with their millions of followers. Rob Flaherty, a Biden-Harris transition team official, wrote in a series of Dec. 22 Tweets that although the Obama administration urged Twitter to transfer all of President Obama’s followers to the Trump administration, it was ultimately Twitter’s decision to wipe the slate clean for Biden. Per CNN, Pacilio did not provide a reason for the change in procedure.
Biden is scheduled to be inaugurated on Jan. 20, 2021, and Twitter will begin the transfer process on multiple accounts, including @WhiteHouse, @POTUS, @VP, @FLOTUS, @PressSec, @Cabinet and @LaCasaBlanca, according to Pacilio.
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