Biden camp takes issue with resetting White House Twitter following

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President-elect Joe Biden will have to rebuild the official White House Twitter account’s social media following from scratch once he is sworn in after the company told his transition team it will not inherit the followers from the Trump administration.

The move by Twitter, a departure from how the company handled the situation four years ago, has peeved some members of Biden’s team.

“In 2016, the Trump admin absorbed all of President Obama’s Twitter followers on @POTUS and @WhiteHouse — at Team 44’s urging,” Biden Digital Director Rob Flaherty tweeted Monday. “In 2020, Twitter has informed us that as of right now the Biden administration will have to start from zero.”

In a follow-up message, Flaherty tweeted that transition staff recently fought the idea having the follower count reset but “were told this was unequivocal.”

Twitter passed along control of both the presidential handle and the one for the White House as part of a broader handoff of the Obama administration’s social media accounts. The accounts had their posts zeroed out and archived in adherence with federal recordkeeping laws elsewhere on Twitter, but President Donald Trump inherited the audience built up during the Obama years.

A spokesperson for the company said they are continuing to work out issues related to the account exchange with Biden’s camp.

“Twitter has been in ongoing discussions with the Biden transition team on a number of aspects related to White House account transfers,” Twitter spokesperson Nick Pacilio said in a statement.

President Donald Trump largely disregarded the @POTUS handle during the past four years to continue tweeting from the personal account that helped carry him to the Oval Office. Trump’s personal account currently has 88.5 million followers, a figure that has dipped somewhat in recent weeks after his electoral defeat to Biden.

POLITICO previously reported that control of the accounts would be transferred automatically moments after Biden takes his oath of office on Inauguration Day, removing the possibility for the Trump administration to throw up roadblocks to their successors as it has at other points of the transition process.

Trump’s personal account will also lose some of the unique protections afforded to him during his time in office, potentially exposing him to penalties like account suspension or termination.

Nevertheless Biden’s own account has 21.6 million followers, a figure that will likely grow once he takes office, and top administration officials like Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and Pete Buttigieg, Biden’s nominee to lead the Department of Transportation, have already amassed sizable social media followings.

The @WhiteHouse’s twitter account has more than 26 million followers and @POTUS stands at 33.2 million. Other accounts associated with the presidency, such as @VP and @FLOTUS, also have millions of followers.

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