The next president of the United States will start with a huge following on Twitter but a clean slate of tweets. It’s all part of the peaceful transition of power in the social media age.
The White House said this week that Obama’s official @POTUS account will be taken over by the next president. Obama’s tweets will move over to a new handle, @POTUS44, maintained by the National Archives and Records Administration.
Similar changes will take place with Obama’s Facebook and Instagram accounts, along with other Twitter accounts, including Michelle Obama’s @FLOTUS and Joe Biden’s @VP accounts.
The White House said it has three goals for the digital transition:
First, all the material published online during Obama’s presidency will be preserved with the National Archives and Records Administration, just as previous administrations have done with handwritten notes, faxes and emails. Second, materials will continue to be accessible on the platforms where they were created, allowing for real-time access. Third, the White House is working to ensure the next president can continue to use and develop the digital assets the Obama administration has created to connect directly with the people they serve.
Obama is leaving office with far more digital content to archive than any previous president. Thousands of hours of video and millions of photos will have to be transferred. Eventually, they’ll be available to download in compact form, such as zip files.
The White House also said in a blog post that it’s inviting students, data engineers and others to come up with creative ways to archive the digital content and make it useful and available. The administration said it will make the material available early to people who are interested in building something for the public.
“From Twitter bots and art projects to printed books and query tools, we’re open to it all,” the White House said.