As President-elect Biden takes the oath in at noon ET on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, Twitter will facilitate the transfer of institutional White House Twitter accounts from President Trump’s administration, including @WhiteHouse, @POTUS, @VP, @FLOTUS and @PressSec. In addition, Twitter has established a new account for Harris’ husband, Douglas Emhoff: @SecondGentleman, which is already live.
“People on Twitter will be able to watch the transition of power take place in real time,” the social network said in a blog post.
Twitter had previously confirmed that Donald Trump and his team would lose access to the White House handles on Inauguration Day. That comes after Twitter permanently banned the outgoing president’s personal account last week after pro-Trump rioters swarmed the U.S. Capitol in a deadly clash with police — and Trump posted a video tweet telling the mob, “We love you, you’re very special.” This Wednesday, Trump returned to Twitter with a video posted via @WhiteHouse, complaining that his deplatforming by Twitter and other online service was an “unprecedented assault on free speech,” but he’ll no longer have access to that account as of Jan. 20.
With the changeover, the White House accounts will not automatically retain the followers from the Trump administration — unlike in 2017, when Trump inherited Obama’s @POTUS followers. Biden’s team had claimed that would reset those Twitter accounts to “zero”; however, according to Twitter, it will migrate the followers of the president-elect’s current handles to the new accounts (e.g., @Transition46 will become @WhiteHouse). In addition, Twitter will send in-app alerts and other prompts to the White House accounts’ existing followers to let them re-follow the new administration’s accounts.
Folks — This will be the account for my official duties as President. At 12:01 PM on January 20th, it will become @POTUS. Until then, I'll be using @JoeBiden. And while you're here, follow @FLOTUSBiden @SenKamalaHarris @SecondGentleman and @Transition46.
— President-elect Biden (@PresElectBiden) January 15, 2021
Prior to handing over the White House accounts to the Biden team, Twitter will transfer the current White House accounts to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), which will archive them under new names. For example, the Trump administration’s @POTUS account will be publicly archived under the @POTUS45 account, just as the Obama administration’s account was archived at @POTUS44.
“Once this archival process is completed, Twitter will transfer the institutional accounts to the Biden administration to assume ownership,” the company said.
At that point, Biden’s @Transition46 will become @WhiteHouse; @PresElectBiden will become @POTUS; @SenKamalaHarris will become @VP; @FLOTUSBiden will become @FLOTUS; and @PressSecPsaki will become @PressSec. All of the tweets, account history and followers will carry over to the new accounts.
Twitter also reiterated that it’s taking additional steps on Inauguration Day “to protect the public conversation” in the wake of the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. That includes “open lines of communication with law enforcement,” as it previously detailed.
In addition, Twitter said users will be able to watch the Biden-Harris inauguration ceremony and coverage via live streams from multiple news outlets and official inauguration feeds, including via the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies’ @JCCIC account, @BidenInaugural, and Twitter’s U.S. Elections Hub.