President Joe Biden tweeted from the @POTUS (President of the United States) account for the first time following the inauguration ceremony, writing: “There is no time to waste when it comes to tackling the crises we face.”
He continued: “That’s why today, I am heading to the Oval Office to get right to work delivering bold action and immediate relief for American families.”
Vice President Kamala Harris has also taken control of @VP account.
Biden became @POTUS on Twitter slightly before noon on Wednesday. But unlike four years ago, when President Trump took over the handle, Biden won’t keep the account’s current followers.
He took over the account Wednesday with more than 955,000 followers, those who had followed his transition account in the last week. Trump’s POTUS account became @POTUS45 at the same time.
The previous followers of the POTUS account will get a notification about the transfer with the option to follow Biden’s POTUS account if they wish. Twitter users who follow his transition account, @PresElectBiden, will automatically follow the new POTUS account.
According to the Washington Post, Biden’s digital director Rob Flaherty called Twitter’s transition plan “profoundly insufficient” in a tweet last week.
“They’re bending themselves over backwards to break with the 2017 protocol they set on the transfer of accounts, and also breaking with every other social platform in providing the new administration a follower base,” he added.
The move of accounts between administrations is just one of a broader digital transition among social media accounts on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube taking place as Biden becomes the 46th president Wednesday.
The social media companies will hand over the keys to the White House accounts to the Biden administration after archiving them on Inauguration Day, ushering in what is expected to mark a different tone and cadence of the accounts after the past four years.
The Biden administration took over the @POTUS account on Twitter, as well as @WhiteHouse, @VP, @FLOTUS and @PressSec. On Facebook, the administration took over accounts for the White House and POTUS, and on YouTube they will inherit the White House channel.
Twitter declined to comment beyond its blog about the decision not to automatically move followers.
“These institutional accounts will not automatically retain the followers from the prior administration,” Twitter wrote in a blog post about the inauguration.
“People on Twitter who previously followed institutional White House Twitter accounts, or who currently follow relevant Biden or Harris Twitter accounts, will receive in-app alerts and other prompts that will notify them about the archival process, as well as give them the option to follow the new administration’s Twitter accounts.”
Trump’s POTUS45 account has more than 33 million followers. It and all its tweets will be archived Wednesday and preserved by the National Archives and Records Administration. Twitter will also create a new institutional account for the incoming administration: @SecondGentleman for Doug Emhoff, husband to Vice President-elect Kamala D. Harris and the first male spouse in that role.
Trump has also been suspended “indefinitely” from Facebook, and YouTube confirmed Tuesday that it would extend his suspension there for at least another week. The historic crackdown by the social media companies came after years of increasing tension between the sites and Trump’s fiery rhetoric, which often included dangerous misinformation.
The final straw was the January 6 attack on the US Capitol that Trump failed to immediately condemn, leading the companies to shut down his social media access to try to prevent more violence.
YouTube will transition the White House account to the Biden administration, along with its 1.9 million followers. The videos currently on the page will be moved to a new channel to serve as an archive, similar to the Obama White House channel.
Facebook and Instagram will archive Trump’s POTUS and White House accounts and turn over those usernames to Biden.