Twitter says Biden won't inherit Trump's 33M followers on @POTUS account

by Peter Heck · Jan 16th, 2021 3:05 pm

Last Updated Jan 18th, 2021 at 8:12 am

After weeks of quarreling with Donald Trump's administration following the decision to permanently ban the president from their platform, Twitter executives have angered President-elect Joe Biden's transition team by announcing he will not be permitted to inherit Trump's millions of followers on the official @POTUS account.

"As Twitter will serve as both a venue for people to watch and talk about this political event, and play a key role in facilitating the transfer of official government communication channels, we want to be transparent and clear about what people should expect to see on the platform," Twitter said, before explaining that Biden will start his term with 0 followers.

Barack Obama was the first president to operate a Twitter account. When his term ended, all of his tweets from the official @POTUS account were archived under @POTUS44. The same thing will happen for Trump, whose tweets from the government account will be archived under @POTUS45.

But unlike in 2017, when President Trump started his first term by inheriting the balance of Obama's followers, Twitter is implementing its new policy to reset back to zero.

The news that Biden will have to build his own audience did not sit well with the president-elect's team, including digital director Rob Flaherty, who called the change, "absolutely, profoundly insufficient."

"They're bending themselves over backwards to break with the 2017 protocol they set on the transfer of accounts, and also breaking with every other social platform in providing the new administration a follower base," Flaherty objected.

Facebook, YouTube, and other social media giants are allowing Biden to inherit Trump's followers beginning January 20th. Twitter has offered no indication they will reconsider their new policy.


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