Twitter’s own presidential transfer of power on January 20—when President Biden will lose the nearly 90 million @Potus followers President Trump had—breaks from the tradition set after President Obama left office, and has angered Biden’s team.
According to Twitter’s announced plans, Biden’s @POTUS account won’t have to start with zero followers as the newly created @PresElectBiden will become the new @POTUS account, while the @Transition46 account will become the new White House account.
Others like Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’s official senator account will become the new official @VP account and the newly created @FLOTUSBiden account will become the official first lady account.
Followers of @POTUS or @VP under President Trump and Vice President Pence will have to re-follow the accounts under Biden and Harris.
In a first, the Biden team will also gain a new account @SecondGentleman which will be the official account for Harris’ spouse and the country’s first-ever Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff.
Rob Flaherty, Biden’s digital director, expressed dismay at Twitter’s plan — which cuts off the Biden team from existing followers to the official accounts — calling it “Absolutely, profoundly insufficient.”
Flaherty noted that Facebook is transferring all of Joe Biden’s followers to the official POTUS account, Snapchat is handing them the @WhiteHouse account, while YouTube is handing them all the existing subscribers to the current White House channel.
Responding to questions about why Biden’s team would want Twitter followers who might be Trump supporters, Flaherty tweeted, “There’s a lot of ~~normal~~ people who follow the President… It’s why the account is a public good… It’s not a political account, it’s the President’s account.” The Biden staffer then added that the President-elect “truly couldn’t care less about Twitter followers… But he does care about communicating with everyone in the country, whether they agree with him or not.”
Vice President-elect’s @SenKamalaHarris had more followers (5.1 million) Friday than the 640,000 followers the @PresElectBiden account. This could mean on inauguration day the @VP account may end up starting with more followers than the @POTUS account.
Like it did with Obama’s @POTUS account, Twitter said it will transfer official accounts to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) for archival purposes. Tweets from Trump’s @POTUS accounts for example will be archived under the inactive @POTUS45 account. During the last transition from Obama to Trump, the outgoing president’s staff insisted Trump’s @POTUS account should inherit Obama’s 13 million followers from his presidential account. It’s unclear why the same won’t take place this time, but it’s possible Trump’s team may have refused to extend the same courtesy to Biden after a series of tumultuous challenges by the outgoing President, who still refuses to acknowledge Biden’s victory.
The Twitter blog makes no mention of Trump’s personal @realDonaldTrump account, which was permanently banned last week after Twitter determined that the president was attempting to incite violence. There is no official archive of Trump’s personal Twitter account, something he used constantly during his presidency to make major policy announcements, rally his supporters, attack his opponents and even fire staff.
Twitter Permanently Bans Trump (Forbes)