Twitter said on Tuesday it would not automatically transfer the millions of followers of official Trump administration accounts to the incoming Biden administration, but instead give users the option to continue or not.
The move affects followers of government-led accounts such as @WhiteHouse and @POTUS, which will be transferred to Joe Biden when he takes over the presidency in January.
Twitter’s decision won’t affect the personal account @realDonaldTrump, which is frequently used by President Donald Trump and has some 88 million followers.
The official government accounts “will not automatically retain their existing followers. Instead, Twitter will notify followers of these accounts to provide context that the content will be archived and allow them the choice to follow the Biden administration’s new accounts,” a Twitter statement said.
“For example, people who follow @WhiteHouse will be notified that the account has been archived as @WhiteHouse45 and given the option to follow the new @WhiteHouse account.”
The move marks a reversal from the last transition.
On Inauguration Day 2017, each had more than 13 million followers. At 12:01 p.m. that day, when Mr Trump was sworn in, the @POTUS account was changed to @POTUS44, an archive of Barack Obama’s official tweets as America’s 44th president.
Followers of that account were also automatically added as followers to the newly created @POTUS account for the Trump administration.
The Biden team says the new plan is for @Transition46 to become @WhiteHouse. Followers of @JoeBiden and @WhiteHouse will be encouraged to follow the new account with a one-time front page notification, but will not be migrated over automatically.
Twitter has been working on the transition for the platform widely used by Mr Trump since the election results were finalised, and has indicated that as a private citizen Mr Trump may not have as much leeway in stretching the rules for newsworthy comments.
While not as widely followed as Mr Trump’s personal account, @POTUS has some 33 million followers and @WhiteHouse 26 million.
The transfer will affect other institutional accounts such as @VP, @FLOTUS, @PressSec, @Cabinet, and @LaCasaBlanca, according to Twitter.
Last month, Twitter indicated any special treatment that Mr Trump has enjoyed ends with his presidency.
“Twitter’s approach to world leaders, candidates and public officials is based on the principle that people should be able to choose to see what their leaders are saying with clear context,” the San Francisco company said.
“This policy framework applies to current world leaders and candidates for office, and not private citizens when they no longer hold these positions.”