Donald Trump built his campaign on early morning tweet storms and hashtag-worthy slogans. Now president, he’s in control of the White House’s powerful social media arsenal, including the official @POTUS Twitter account that has nearly 14 million followers.
The technological transition came just as Trump took the oath of office Friday, giving him a clean digital slate while preserving hundreds of tweets and posts made during President Barack Obama’s time in office.
The White House’s official Twitter and Facebook accounts were quickly purged and rebranded for the new administration — the first time social media accounts have been a part of the transition.
Trump didn’t rush to use the @POTUS account.
Trump sent his first tweets as president from @realDonaldTrump, the personal account where his thousands of candid on everything from immigration to golf course conditions helped propel him into a political force.
“We will bring back our jobs. We will bring back our borders. We will bring back our wealth – and we will bring back our dreams!” Trump told his 21 million followers about an hour into his presidency.
A few hours later, the @POTUS account sprung to life with a photo of Trump being introduced at the swearing-in ceremony and a link to a Facebook post on the occasion. The same image appeared on the White House’s newly scrubbed Instagram account.
Tweets generated during the Obama administration have been archived and moved to separate accounts such as @FLOTUS44, @VP44 and @ObamaWhiteHouse.
The same went for official White House accounts on Facebook, Instagram, Medium, Tumblr and YouTube.
Turning over social media accounts is a modern twist on the complex presidential transition — the 21st century version of handing over nuclear codes and the keys to the Oval Office.
The White House’s digital transition plans, announced a week before the election, stressed that the National Archives would preserve social media content in a similar fashion as paper records.
Twitter, which helped transition White House accounts on its platform, said anyone who started following POTUS during Obama’s presidency would automatically start following POTUS44, too.
“Citizens and their elected leaders around the world have come to rely on Twitter as an instantaneous, direct means of communication,” Twitter’s Colin Crowell said. “The transparency and accountability that this global, open Twitter conversation fosters are a benefit to all, and we’re glad to see today’s smooth @POTUS transition.”
Obama presided over the White House’s push into social media. The first official White House account, @whitehouse, was created in April 2009, his third month in office. The @POTUS account didn’t come around until June 2013.
Obama sent a farewell tweet from @POTUS on Friday morning and followed up a few hours later with one from his @BarackObama account.
“Hi everybody! Back to the original handle,” Obama wrote. “Is this thing still on?”