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Twitter won't transfer official POTUS account followers to Biden like when Trump took office

Joe Biden will have to start with zero followers on the official POTUS and White House accounts, a reversal from when Donald Trump took power.
Credit: AP
President-elect Joe Biden pauses as he leaves to listen to a reporter's shouted question at The Queen Theater in Wilmington, Del., Tuesday, Dec 22, 2020. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

WASHINGTON — President-elect Joe Biden will not inherit President Donald Trump's followers on Twitter's @POTUS account -- the official account for the president. It's a reversal from 2017 when former President Barack Obama's followers were kept on the account when Trump took over.

Biden's digital director Rob Flaherty tweeted on Tuesday that the decision to reset to zero followers was Twitter's, not Trump's. He posted it in a correction to reporter Hugo Lowell's tweet that said the Trump administration had refused to transfer the followers.

Lowell acknowledged the error, but said it isn't clear if the Trump administration had asked for the followers to roll over to Biden. Flaherty said it was at Obama's urging in 2017 that the followers stayed on the @POTUS AND @WhiteHouse accounts when Trump took office.

The @POTUS account has 33.2 million followers, while @WhiteHouse has 26 million.

News outlets report that other administration accounts, including the first lady and press secretary's, will also be reset to zero. Twitter told Bloomberg and The Verge that the social media company "has been in ongoing discussions with the Biden transition team on a number of aspects related to White House account transfers."

Flaherty tweeted that Biden's team has "pushed back" against Twitter.

The president and White House accounts each had more than 13 million followers on Inauguration Day 2017. Obama's presidential account became @POTUS44, an archive of Obama’s official tweets, when Trump was sworn in as the 45th U.S. president and took over @POTUS.

Twitter says those who follow the accounts now will be notified that they're being archived with Trump's and will be given the option to follow Biden.

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Biden's team says the plan is for @Transition46 to become @WhiteHouse. 

His personal account has more than 21 million followers.

While Trump's will be archived like Obama's, he'll still have his own @realDonaldTrump, which he's often used as a podium throughout his presidency to his 88 million followers. Former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said in 2017 Trump's tweets should be viewed as official statements.

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