UPDATED: Donald Trump and his administration will lose access to Twitter’s official White House accounts — including @POTUS and @WhiteHouse — when Joe Biden is sworn in on Jan. 20, 2021, as the 46th president of the United States.
But with the changeover, the Biden team will not inherit the accounts’ existing followers. On Inauguration Day, Twitter will issue prompts to existing followers of @POTUS, @WhiteHouse and others to re-follow the new Biden-controlled accounts if they choose. The existing posts from the Trump administration will be archived on new accounts (e.g., @POTUS45 and @WhiteHouse45) maintained by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).
The White House accounts “will not automatically retain their existing followers,” a Twitter rep said in a statement sent to Variety Tuesday. “Instead, Twitter will notify followers of these accounts to provide context that the content will be archived and allow them the choice to follow the Biden administration’s new accounts.”
That’s a change from what happened when Trump took over the White House four years ago. In 2016, “the Trump admin absorbed all of President Obama’s Twitter followers on @POTUS and @WhiteHouse — at Team 44’s urging,” Rob Flaherty, the Biden campaign’s digital director, tweeted earlier Tuesday. “In 2020, Twitter has informed us that as of right now the Biden administration will have to start from zero.”
Currently, @POTUS has 33.2 million followers on Twitter and @WhiteHouse has 26 million. Other presidential accounts that will be moving to the Biden team include @VP, @FLOTUS, @PressSec, @Cabinet and @LaCasaBlanca.
Meanwhile, as previously reported, after Trump leaves office he will lose the special exemption that Twitter applies to political leaders under which the social network flags (but does not remove) posts that would be considered policy violations for regular users.
“If an account [holder] suddenly is not a world leader anymore, that particular policy goes away,” Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said at a Senate hearing last month.
That will extend to Trump’s personal @realDonaldTrump account, which today has 88.5 million followers. Since Election Day, Trump and his supporters have made numerous inaccurate claims, including that Trump somehow won the election and that there was widespread voter fraud or other voting snafus that would have changed the results — without any credible evidence.
In the past two months, Twitter has flagged hundreds of Trump’s tweets and retweets related to the election as disputed or misleading. After the Electoral College’s Dec. 14 vote confirming Biden as the next U.S. president, Twitter began appending some of Trump’s tweets falsely claiming he won with a new label that says, “Election officials have certified Joe Biden as winner of the U.S. Presidential election.”