On Monday afternoon, the White House blog announced the protocol for the first official transition process between presidencies for the social media accounts.
As the first president to have a true social media presence, Obama has transformed the way the president connects to constituents. The first Twitter handle, @POTUS, was established back in 2015; this isn’t surprising since Twitter is only two years older than Obama’s time in office. He modernized fireside chats by addressing citizens questions on YouTube. And, a satirical video presented at his last White House Correspondent’s Dinner included him experimenting with Snapchat filters.
Hello, Twitter! It’s Barack. Really! Six years in, they’re finally giving me my own account.
— President Obama (@POTUS) May 18, 2015
“The President has made clear that a smooth transition between administrations is one of his top priorities, and digital is a key component of that effort,” according the White House blog post.
The announcement outlines the first ever protocol for social media over to the next president, that will take place on January 20th, 2017. The new president will gain access to @POTUS, but will start fresh with no tweets on his or her timeline. All tweets from Obama’s presidency will be transferred over to a new Twitter account, @POTUS44, to still be accessible to the public. In addition, tweets will be archived at the National Archives and Records Administration along with all other presidential records.
This same transition of power and archives protocol will be also implemented for other administration Twitter accounts like @WhiteHouse, @FLOTUS, and @VP. If Clinton wins the election, a new Twitter handle would need to be created for Bill Clinton since he wouldn’t be titled FLOTUS.
The White House and NARA are using this transition of power as an opportunity to create more accessible ways to open data to the public. “By the end of this Administration, we’re committed to publicly sharing all of our social media content in an easily accessible and comprehensive way (e.g. zip files to download),” according to the White House blog.
In addition to the zip files to downloads, the White House and NARA are “inviting the American public – from students and data engineers, to artists and researchers – to come up with creative ways to archive this content and make it both useful and available for years to come.”
The decision to open up the process to the public aligns with Obama’s initiative to bridge the gap between government and citizens through technology innovations. “Since his first full day in office, President Obama has prioritized making government more open and accountable and has taken substantial steps to increase citizen participation, collaboration, and transparency in government,” according to data.gov’s “Open Government” page.