How the White House Will Keep Obama's Tweets Alive While Handing Over Control of @POTUS
Not all tweets go to heaven, it turns out. For social media posts attached to official government accounts, the White House has a plan.
In late October, the White House released a "digital transition" strategy, as the Obama administration was the first to use social media.
The plan poses this major question: In "nearly eight years of digital firsts, more than 470,000 We the People petitions, nearly 30,000 @WhiteHouse tweets, and thousands of hours of video footage—what happens when the next administration takes office?"
Because, lest we forget, the digital transition is just one of many ways the old administration and will have to pass the baton to the new administration.
Mostly, President Obama's team will work closely with the National Archives and Records Administration to conserve his administrations' posts.
"While we are required to preserve our social media content with NARA, we wanted to take extra measures to make our digital archive as useful and accessible as possible in the months and years to come," Kori Schulman, special assistant to the president and deputy chief digital officer and author of the digital strategy, told Adweek.
Social media, especially in these rather fraught times, can seem like a blessing and a curse. It's supposed to be a way to connect with people (remember when it was called "social networking"?), but lately, it's been allowing rampant abuse and fake news to run wild.
The White House Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts, along with other official agency accounts, all will be archived. All of those posts will still be around to see, just in a slightly different way. They will be scooted over to other accounts, but the records will also be kept with NARA.
Four more years. pic.twitter.com/bAJE6Vom— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) November 7, 2012
"We're making social media data available to the public so that developers, historians, artists and others can participate in the process," Schulman said.
The White House wants the posts to live on as more than just used bandwidth. In the future, people can piece together history using some of the first social media moments in the U.S. presidency.
"[The White House is] taking steps to ensure that the next White House can continue to develop the digital assets we've created to connect directly with the people they serve," said Schulman.
The digital team is in the process of creating new accounts that will end in "44"—@POTUS44, for instance—to signify which president they belonged to. Every post created between 2009 and 2016 will be removed from official accounts like @WhiteHouse, @FLOTUS, @PressSec and @VP once the transition is ready to take place.
Since President-elect Donald Trump already has a prolific Twitter account, will he use @POTUS for rants? We'll have to wait until January to find out.
And for those still curious about what the first female president's spouse will be called when the time comes, or what that username will be, Schulman clarified that decision would be made by the administration in question, not the outgoing one.
A lot has changed over the past eight years, and a lot more is about to. Let's see how that plays out online.