Obama's Social Media Presence Archived Upon Leaving Office - #POTUS44

In the past decade, America bore witness the first African-American president twice elected with the sole mantra of change. Barack Obama embodies empowerment after experiencing racism from an early age, and upheaval, climbing the political ladder with a single-minded mission: to make a difference. He was outright in his opposition to the Iraq War in 2001, speaking openly at a time when followers couldn't pipe in for support. After winning the U.S. Senate seat in 2004, he created a website to track all federal spending. With his first election to presidency in 2008, Obama accomplished many feats large and small, including doing away with the ban on embryonic stem cell research. He revamped America's foreign policy by improving international relations, and created the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). Doing away with the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" military policy in 2011 allowed gay military members to openly express their sexuality without fear of expulsion. With his re-election in 2013, Obama proposed immigration reform so that illegal immigrants would have a recourse to gain citizenship, negotiated a deal with Iran to freeze its nuclear program, and conceded that his healthcare program, HealthCare.gov, was a mistake. Since then he has raised the minimum wage despite opposition and saw the Supreme Court declare same-sex marriage a right.
An unasuming cornerstone to his legacy is that only with Obama did we learn just how effective a social media presence can be.

As if his accomplishments for the American people weren't enough to garner the support and respect he so rightly deserves, Obama is an active participant in the current culture. Selfie culture, that is. Shaking off pomp and circumstance, his personality shines through across several Twitter handles: @BarackObama, @WhiteHouse, and @POTUS. Obama's official twitter account has 77.52 million followers, exceeded only by Katy Perry, Justin Bieber, and Taylor Swift. With 15,415 tweets under his belt, the president has more than Katy Perry and Taylor Swift (Justin Bieber has an unholy 30,578 tweets). Created 18 May 2015, @POTUS is the first Twitter account exclusively made available to the U.S. president. The handle @WhiteHouse existed before Obama's reign, created 21 April 2007. Twitter has been used as a platform to promote policies, add firsthand input to economic issues, and to oversee/engage in public debate.

Verification Photo for Reddit

Obama participated in a internet rite of passage, Ask Me Anything or /ama, where highly-participative Redditors ask the person being interviewed any questions they can think of. The entire affair took place 29 August 2012 and can be found here. In a similar vein, several times throughout his presidency Obama has taken questions from Twitter in public forums. On 6 July 2011, an event dubbed "Twitter Presents Townhall @ the White House," a live-streamed event in which pertinent questions (those dealing with economy and jobs) would receive an oral response from the president himself.

With the 2016 presidential election drawing ever-closer, what will happen to Obama's troves of tweets?

The current president will have his collection of tweets archived under handles reflective of his office. For Obama, that means a 44 will be tacked onto the end of handles: @WhiteHouse44 and @POTUS44. This will ensure that materials are available in real-time and on their original platformsOther presidential handles, Michelle Obama's @FLOTUS, Josh Earnest's @PressSec, and Joe Biden's @VP, will receive the same treatment. This change will be seen across platforms, from Twitter to Instagram, Flickr, YouTube, and Tumblr.

According to the White House, the next president will inherit all that the Obama administration has built, following a list of plans for transition. In a blog post, deputy chief digital officer Kori Schulman says that all material published online will be preserved with the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) just as paper records have been in the past. He outlines their plans for preserving and turning over social media, governmental websites, and photos/videos.

As for content, everything will be removed from account timelines. So, while the White House's official Instagram and Facebook are being inherited by the next administration, they will start from scratch to build their own presence. This means that the official account for the U.S. president, @POTUS, will automatically give the next in line 11 million Twitter followers. As for WhiteHouse.gov, the page will be frozen on 20 January and renamed ObamaWhiteHouse.gov.  

Schulman says this on the purpose of social media engagement: 
From the very beginning, our mission ahs been to reach Americans and people around the world on the channels and platforms where they already spend their time. This work began on President Obama's 2008 campaign and, over the course of this Administration, has increasingly meant meeting people where they are online, using technology to re-imagine traditional formats, and creating unique oppurtunities for people to interact with their government.

A digital transition of this kind has not been seen in past presidencies because no other president has used social media as Obama hasIn his campaign days, supporters could access barackobama.com, a social network website run by one of the co-founders of Facebook, Chris Hughes, to write blog posts, post photos/videos, make virtual phone calls, and organise events in support of Obama. In conjunction with this invaluable social tool, the Obama presidential campaign spent $643,000 to promote his Facebook account. He was truly the first of his kind to occupy office. For his bouts of fun, family values, and unparalled speech-making, he will be missed.

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