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The Twitter logo is seen at the New York Stock Exchange, with a US flag in the background. The company said all existing tweets on White House accounts will be archived and reset to zero tweets on inauguration day. Photo: AFP

Twitter to hand @POTUS account to Biden on inauguration day, even if Trump does not concede

  • The social media company said it is preparing to support the transition of White House Twitter accounts including @FLOTUS and @VP
  • But the president mostly uses his private account, @realDonaldTrump, which has 88 million followers, dwarfing the 32 million @POTUS followers

This story is published in a content partnership with POLITICO. It was originally reported by Nancy Scola on on November 20, 2020.

The presidential @POTUS Twitter handle will automatically transfer to Joe Biden the moment he is sworn in as president of the United States at noon on Inauguration Day – whether President Donald Trump has conceded, the company confirmed to POLITICO on Friday.

Same goes for @whitehouse, @VP, @FLOTUS, and a handful other official accounts associated with the presidency.

“Twitter is actively preparing to support the transition of White House institutional Twitter accounts on January 20th, 2021,” Twitter spokesman Nick Pacilio said.

“As we did for the presidential transition in 2017, this process is being done in close consultation with the National Archives and Records Administration.”

The handover requires no sharing of information between the outgoing Trump team and incoming Biden team, according to the company. All existing tweets on those accounts will be archived and Twitter will transfer the accounts – reset to zero tweets – to the Biden White House that day.

Trump will lose special Twitter protections in January

Why it matters

Trump has protested Biden’s victory, even though results released by election officials clearly give the race to Biden. GSA, the federal agency responsible for triggering the start of the formal presidential transition process, has so far declined to do so. That has delayed the Biden team’s access to everything from office space and to government email addresses, and even blocked them from using the .gov domain to host an official transition website.

But even should Trump continue to contest his loss and fight his removal from the White House on January 20, he will not have a say in whether he hangs on to one of the presidency’s main digital assets. The dynamic is a reflection of the hugely consequential role Twitter has played in American politics in the Trump era, and the considerable power the company wields.

Flagged tweets on President Donald Trump’s Twitter page after the messaging platform moved to mask potentially misleading content. Photo: AFP

Why it might not matter

President Trump has used his personal account, @realDonaldTrump, for most of his tweeting even while president. Trump, as a private citizen, will keep control of that account.

That said, the account will lose the protections it carries under Twitter’s “world leaders” policy – which allows rule-breaking tweets to remain up, with warning labels – the moment that Biden is sworn in to office.

Trump fans dump Twitter, Facebook for right-wing social media apps

What’s next

Twitter said its representatives will meet Biden-Harris transition officials in the coming months to discuss the particulars of how the new administrations will use Twitter.

Before election day in 2016, the Obama White House published a robust plan for the transition of its digital assets to the next President of the United States (POTUS).

When Barack Obama left office in 2017 to make way for Trump, the Obama White House accounts were shifted to archived accounts under the management of the National Archives and Records Administration. For example, Obama’s tweets that had lived at @POTUS were housed under @POTUS44, and the account locked.

The Trump White House has so far refused to engage in public discussion of the particulars of the presidential transition, which includes what will happen with digital assets like government Twitter accounts.

Read Politico’s story.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: InaugurationTwitter to give accounts to Biden Day account switch