On Wednesday, Biden and his team gained access to a long list of official government accounts across the major social media platforms, including the @POTUS account on Twitter. With the tap of a button, the Biden administration inherited a digital megaphone with the potential to make news and shape the public image of the US government.
The transfer of these official accounts, which include not just those representing Biden and the White House but nearly every arm of government, has emerged as an important aspect of the broader transition of power, especially after Twitter became the favored online platform of former President Donald Trump.
“It certainly has a big symbolic value,” said David Lazer, a political science and computer sciences professor at Northeastern University. “The centrality of Twitter to Trump’s brand and identity has made the moment a lot more significant.”
Twitter’s approach stands in contrast to other social networks such as Snapchat and YouTube, which said the Biden administration would keep the current followers on the respective White House accounts.
Facebook and its subsidiary Instagram transferred accounts on both platforms, such as the POTUS and FLOTUS Facebook pages and the White House Instagram account, to Biden’s team. These platforms also duplicated the followers on Joe Biden’s Facebook page and Instagram account to the official POTUS page and account.
While the Biden team may not inherit all of the Twitter followers, it won’t be starting totally from scratch. Biden’s @Transition46 account on Twitter became @WhiteHouse, the @PresElectBiden became @POTUS, @SenKamalaHarris became @VP, @FLOTUSBiden became @FLOTUS, and @PressSecPsaki became @PressSec.