First Trump administration tweets come from @realDonaldTrump

Moments after Donald Trump was sworn in as president, @POTUS, @WhiteHouse and @FLOTUS switched to his team. He'll rely on @realDonaldTrump too.

Terry Collins Staff Reporter, CNET News
Terry writes about social networking giants and legal issues in Silicon Valley for CNET News. He joined CNET News from the Associated Press, where he spent the six years covering major breaking news in the San Francisco Bay Area. Before the AP, Terry worked at the Star Tribune in Minneapolis and the Kansas City Star. Terry's a native of Chicago.
Terry Collins
3 min read

The transition of power from Barack Obama to Donald Trump becomes official on January 20.

Getty Images

Without question, Barack Obama was the first president of the social media generation.

But on Friday, he and Michelle Obama relinquished their @POTUS and @FLOTUS Twitter handles, along with other presidential social media accounts so they can be used by Donald Trump and his wife, Melania, who began moving into the White House.

The new president's first tweets, however, came from his primary Twitter account, @realDonaldTrump, which posted excerpts of his inaugural speech.

Later in the day, the @POTUS Twitter handle posted its first tweet under new management. The tweet: a video of Trump's speech:

The peaceful transition of power, a hallmark of American democracy, came with the handover of presidential social media accounts. The White House embarked on a digital transition plan late last year to ensure a smooth turnover.

The White House collected all @POTUS tweets issued during the Obama years and changed the Twitter handle to @POTUS44. That allowed Trump to claim the @POTUS Twitter account, though the process reset the number of Twitter followers from 13.5 million back to zero. The first lady's Twitter account similarly reset from its more than 6.5 million followers.


The White House has been working on a "digital transition plan" as Barack Obama departs the Oval Office.

Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

The earlier follower counts went to the former president and first lady to their new accounts, but the Trump's @POTUS and @FLOTUS accounts should have similar counts or higher later Friday, Twitter said.

"While much of the digital transition is unprecedented in the United States, the peaceful transition of power is not," said Kori Schulman, Obama's outgoing deputy chief digital officer. "There are some important principles we can work from."

The outgoing administration collected eight years of Obama's tweets, GIFs, Facebook posts, Instagram images and other social media offerings into the searchable Obama White House Social Media Archive.

The archive, hosted by platform ArchiveSocial, contains more than 250,000 posts, photos and videos shared by more than 100 official White House social media accounts. All Obama-related social media will be stored by the National Archives and Records Administration, available for public access.

Obama later tweeted on his @BarackObama account, with more than 81 million followers, that he and his wife were going on a break before getting "back to work."

Meanwhile, the White House Twitter account was handed over to the Trump administration while the new president delivered his inauguration speech. More than 12 million inauguration tweets were sent on Friday, peaking at around 58,ooo tweets per minute around 12:02 p.m. Eastern time, Twitter said.

The transition leaves Trump, who has more than 46 million followers across social media, with two Twitter accounts -- and the potential for twice the epic tweetstorms.

Trump's use of his own account isn't entirely unexpected.

Acknowledging the unprecedented role social media played in his campaign and his upset victory over heavily favored Democratic rival Hillary Clinton, Trump told The Times of London earlier this week that he's holding onto his original Twitter account, which has more than 20 million followers alone.

"The tweeting, I thought I'd do less of it, but I'm covered so dishonestly by the press," he said, noting he can tweet out his points quickly. "I can go bing bing bing... and they put it on [as breaking news]."

Trump's transition team didn't respond to requests for comment.

A Twitter spokesman declined to comment on whether it provides special security features for White House accounts, but said the social network often gives tips about account security to its high-profile users.

Perhaps that's what Dan Scavino, a Trump senior adviser and social media director, was doing when he tweeted after meeting with Twitter officials on Jan. 9.

The transition is over. It's now showtime for Trump.

First published Oct. 31, 2016.
Update, Jan. 20, 2017, most recently at 3:12 p.m. PT: Added comments from Trump, Obama, Twitter and other background information.

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