When President Barack Obama left office on January 20, 2017, all followers of the official @POTUS and @WhiteHouse accounts were transferred to newly elected President Donald Trump. But that’s not happening this year when Joe Biden takes the oath of office on Jan. 20. Instead, Biden will have to start from scratch, according to Biden’s new Digital Director, Rob Flaherty.
YouTube is transferring followers on the official White House account, as is Snapchat, while Facebook is transferring all of Biden’s Facebook fans to the official White House account. But when it comes to Twitter, Biden is expected to do all the heavy lifting on a fresh account, which Biden’s team just started, called PresElectBiden.
“Twitter is starting us at zero...but recommended the President of the United States tag other accounts to encourage growth,” Flaherty tweeted late Thursday.
When Gizmodo reached out to Twitter for an explanation, a spokesperson directed us to a blog post that did not contain an explanation for why Biden isn’t being afforded the same courtesy that Trump received. Instead, the blog notes that anyone who currently follows the POTUS account will receive a notification about the archival process for Trump’s institutional accounts.
These institutional accounts will not automatically retain the followers from the prior administration. People on Twitter who previously followed institutional White House Twitter accounts, or who currently follow relevant Biden or Harris Twitter accounts, will receive in-app alerts and other prompts that will notify them about the archival process, as well as give them the option to follow the new administration’s Twitter accounts.
One of the most important symbolic actions of government in a democracy is the peaceful transfer of power from one leader to the next. That ship has sailed, unfortunately, as President Trump failed to concede the November election and tried to unleash a violent coup against the U.S. Capitol in an attempt to retain power. But it’s bizarre that some companies in Silicon Valley can’t at least give us a peaceful transfer of posting, especially when Trump has already been banned from so many platforms like Facebook and Twitter.
It’s not hard, Twitter. Just give Biden the followers, if only because that’s the deal you gave Trump. This isn’t rocket science.