The next president of the United States will inherit President Obama’s 11.1 million Twitter followers on the @POTUS feed when he or she takes office on Jan. 20, 2017. Whether those followers stick around to hear what Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton has to tweet is another matter.
The White House has left a significant mark on the web and social media through a variety of channels over the past eight years, and this week laid out what plans are in place to preserve material and websites for historical purposes while promising a smooth digital transition for Obama’s successor.
The president, vice president, first lady and the White House have used the internet in unprecedented ways. From WhiteHouse.gov to Twitter to Facebook, Flickr, Snapchat, Vimeo, iTunes, Instagram, Tumblr, YouTube, Medium and more, a “digital infrastructure” has been established that should serve as a launchpad for the next president as well as an important archive for all Americans.
When Trump or Clinton takes office, @POTUS will start with no tweets. The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) will maintain a new handle, @POTUS44, for all of President Obama’s old tweets. The White House reports that this will also be the case for other Twitter handles, including @WhiteHouse, @FLOTUS, @PressSec, and @VP.
On Instagram and Facebook, the White House username, URL, and followers will become available to the new administration, but will start with no content on the timeline. WhiteHouse.gov says, “An archive of content that was posted to the Obama White House Instagram and Facebook feeds will continue to be accessible to the public at Instagram.com/ObamaWhiteHouse and Facebook.com/ObamaWhiteHouse. Facebook accounts for President Obama and the Vice President and the Instagram accounts belonging to the First Lady and Vice President will be moved to new ’44’ usernames and preserved by NARA.”
Here’s Michelle Obama’s first ever post to Instagram:
The White House’s We The People website boasts 12 million verified users who have created more than 470,000 petitions to the government. The code has been open-sourced and efforts are being made to allow future administrations to carry on the tradition.
Thousands of hours of video footage and millions of photographs will also be transferred to NARA. Photos uploaded to Flickr and Instagram and elsewhere will continue to be available on those platforms under different usernames, maintained by NARA.