Barack Obama was the first US president on Twitter, and he won’t be the last. So what happens to the @POTUS Twitter handle after the election?
When Obama leaves office on Jan. 20, 2017, Twitter will transfer his tweets to the new account @POTUS44, which will contain all of his previous tweets, according to a statement from the White House. The 45th US president, whoever that will be, will then receive the handle @POTUS, which will begin tabula rasa with no tweets on the timeline.
As for Instagram and Facebook, the incoming presidential administration will own the White House username, URL, and followers, and it will also begin its term with a blank timeline. The same is true of the vice president and first lady’s social media accounts.
If Hillary Clinton is elected, Bill Clinton will likely be referred to as the “first gentleman of the United States.” The White House’s statement did not cover the account @FGOTUS, though the account currently sports an “about me” stating “I’m obviously with her.”
The current accounts for the vice president, first lady, White House, and other associated accounts will become @VP44, @FLOTUS44, @WhiteHouse44, and so on, the White House’s statement reads. The accounts with “44” appended will remain under the control of Joe Biden, Michelle Obama, and their staffers.
Obama was also the first president to use Snapchat, YouTube, and Facebook Live to engage with the public. The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) will preserve the social media created by Obama’s administration in a publicly accessible archive.
NARA will also archive content from other digital arms of the Obama administration. The We the People petition platform and Obama’s version of WhiteHouse.gov will be available in the NARA archives. You can follow the transition on @WHWeb.
Donald Trump (@realDonaldTrump) and Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) have amassed 12.8 million and 10.1 million followers respectively, while @POTUS has 11.1 million at the time of reporting. Trump has remarked in the past that he would “totally accept the election results if I win” and has made claims that the election is rigged, making it unclear how he would approach a digital transition of power.
Neither Hillary Clinton’s nor Donald Trump’s campaign responded immediately to requests for comment on how they would handle a digital transition of power or if they would keep posting from their existing accounts.
Here is an archive of all 317 of @POTUS’s tweets scraped by BuzzFeed News.