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US President Barack Obama holds a BlackBerry smartphone in his hand
Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo/J.C. Hong

White House preserves Obama's social media legacy

Lewis Sanders IV
January 10, 2017

More than 250,000 posts from White House profiles have been archived for historical purposes. Despite rising tensions ahead of Trump's inauguration, the White House has promised a "smooth transition" of digital assets.


The White House revealed a publicly-accessible archive last week containing content from more than 100 social media profiles created during US President Barack Obama's administration.

"President Obama is the first 'social media president:' the first to have @POTUS on Twitter, the first to go live on Facebook from the Oval Office, the first to answer questions from citizens on YouTube, the first to use a filter on Snapchat," the White House said in a statement.

Collecting more than 250,000 posts, photos and videos shared by White House-affiliated profiles, the archive showcases the threads of policy development and personal moments that form the tapestry of social media activity created by the Obama administration.

"This digital infrastructure is an asset not just for the next president but for all future presidents to build off of. The archive belongs to the American people," the White House added.

Although Obama's first presidential campaign in 2008 relied heavily on social media to mobilize voters, it wasn't until 2015 that the president wrote his first official message on the micro blogging platform Twitter.

Since then, the President of the United States of America (POTUS) account has amassed more than 13 million followers, although it trails behind Obama's personal Twitter profile @barackobama, considered one of the most popular on Twitter with 80 million followers.

However, Obama hasn't limited his social media legacy to 140-character posts on Twitter. He has reached out to domestic and international audiences using Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat. He often used the platforms to offer a personal and, at times, candid view of the White House and its inner workings as well as policy decisions and their consequences.

Obama's social media legacy to be preserved

'Peaceful transition'

As Obama winds down his 8-year presidency and hands over the reins to President-elect Donald Trump, questions have arisen as to who will administer the social media profiles that have become a part of the outgoing president's digital identity.

Trump, known for his confrontational remarks, frequently uses social media, often to share his opinion and pressure lawmakers and companies into succumbing to his political vision.

However, the White House promised a "smooth transition" of the digital assets used by the outgoing administration.

"While much of the digital transition is unprecedented in the United States, the peaceful transition of power is not," the White House said in a statement.

While Trump will receive the @POTUS account on Twitter with all previous tweets deleted from the timeline, the handle @POTUS44, managed by the US National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), will retain Obama's social media content on the micro blogging platform.

"We are working to ensure that the next president and administration - regardless of party - can continue to use and develop the digital assets we have created to connect directly with the people they serve," the White House added.

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