On January 20 2017, a new President of the United States will be sworn in. Along with all the usual responsibilities that need to be transferred, Barack Obama will hand over a new set of reins for the first time: the President's official social media accounts. The White House has outlined just how this process will take place, as well as how all content created during the Obama administration will be archived.
With Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and the like forming a huge part of how people keep in touch with friends, communicate with brands, consume news and find information, it's only natural that the government uses those channels to interact with the public. Over the eight years of Obama's presidency, the White House has made use of Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Vimeo, YouTube and even MySpace (2009 was a different time). A platform called We the People gave the public the ability to submit and sign petitions on various issues, with every one that surpasses 100,000 signatures receiving an official response.
So with thousands of hours of video across the governmental social media accounts, 30,000 tweets from The White House and hundreds more from Obama himself, how will all that be moved to the next administration? For the first "digital transition" to go smoothly, the White House plans to address three key goals: preserving all Obama era content, making sure it all remains publicly accessible on the platform it was originally published, and ensuring that the next President, and all future leaders, will have access to the same digital assets.
That means every last tweet, photo, video, and piece of online content created by the current administration, will be preserved with the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA). That social media content will sit alongside all the records that the government agency already houses from previous administrations, in the form of handwritten notes, faxes, emails, etc, and just like those, it will all be publicly accessible as an archive.
Meanwhile, all of that content will still be available on its home platforms, too, as it all shifts over to new usernames, handles and URLs created to distinguish them from the next and future presidential accounts. So, Obama's tweets sent under the @POTUS handle will be visible under a new @POTUS44 account, and Facebook and Instagram accounts for the White House, the President, First Lady and Vice President will also be moved to new URLs that reflect their status as the 44th administration.
The current White House website will be frozen and preserved, and shifted to a new ObamaWhiteHouse.gov URL. We the People should continue as normal too, after all Obama era petitions and responses are archived at NARA.
Essentially, this means the official accounts can be wiped clean, ready for the next administration. To hit the third goal of giving future Presidents full access to those digital assets, the White House website and social media accounts will stay at the same URL and retain all followers, but will begin with no content at all.
As comprehensive as that all sounds, the White House is still open to suggestions, and has put out a call for interested tinkerers to pitch ideas on the best ways to preserve and pass on the presidential presence on social media.
Source: The White House
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