As the outgoing Obama Administration plans to preserve and pass on the digital history of the White House to President-elect Donald Trump’s administration, questions over the conitnuity of social media revolution brought in by President Barack Obama have surfaced.
President Obama is the first “social media president” to kick-start @POTUS on Twitter, the first to go live on Facebook from the Oval Office, the first to answer questions from citizens on YouTube, and the first to use a filter on Snapchat. In his two terms of eight years in the White House, Obama, Vice President Biden, First Lady Michelle, and the White House staff have used social media and technology to engage with people around the country round the clock.
In 2009, in addition to rolling out a revamped WhiteHouse.gov featuring a blog, RSS, and an email list, White House communications wing joined Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Vimeo, iTunes, and even MySpace. In 2011, they launched ‘We the People’, a platform for citizens to petition the White House.
In 2013, the First Lady posted her first photo to Instagram. In 2015, President Obama sent his first tweet from @POTUS. In 2016, the White House debuted an official story on Snapchat for the State of the Union. This digital infrastructure is an asset not just for the next president but for all future presidents to build off of.
After all this digital revolution for over 8 years, more than 470,000 We the People petitions, nearly 30,000 @WhiteHouse tweets, and thousands of hours of video footage, what happens when the next administration takes office?
Here are certain plans already on the cards:
On Twitter, the handle @POTUS will be made available to the 45th President of the United States on January 20, 2017. The account will retain its more than 11 million followers, but start with no tweets on the timeline. @POTUS44, a newly created handle maintained by NARA, will contain all of President Obama’s tweets and will be accessible to the public on Twitter as an archive of President Obama’s use of the account.
On Instagram and Facebook, the incoming White House will gain access to the White House username, URL, and retain the followers, but will start with no content on the timeline. An archive of White House content that was posted to the Obama White House Instagram and Facebook will continue to be accessible to the public at Instagram.com/ObamaWhiteHouse and Facebook.com/ObamaWhiteHouse. Facebook accounts for President Obama and the Vice President and the Instagram accounts belonging to the First Lady and Vice President will be moved to new “44” usernames and preserved by NARA.
“We’ll follow a similar approach with other official accounts on platforms including Medium, Tumblr, and YouTube. These presences will be made available to the 45th White House, including the “White House” username, /WhiteHouse URL, and the followers, but start with no content on the accounts,” said Kori Schulman of the White House communications department.
She has also assured that the Obama White House content will be preserved and accessible in the same manner as all other presidential records and continue to be available on the platform at a new URL.
We the People:
Today, the White House’s We The People website has more than 12 million verified users that have created more than 470,000 petitions to their government on the issues they care the most about. The White House mobilizes government officials to respond to every petition that receives at least 100,000 signatures. Over the years, it became a powerful platform, with petitions reaching senior staff and the President’s desk and even shaping policy on topics such as cell phone unlocking and net neutrality.
The incoming White House will receive the WhiteHouse.gov domain and all content that has been posted to WhiteHouse.gov during the Obama administration will be archived with NARA.