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Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Twitter on Tuesday confirmed that while it will transfer about a dozen official administrative accounts to the Biden administration, it will not transfer over the followers associated with those accounts.

Why it matters: The move is a departure from the precedent set in 2017, when Twitter transferred millions of followers from official Twitter handles used by the Obama administration to the Trump administration. The change spurred public criticism from the Biden's digital director on Twitter.

Details: According to a Twitter spokesperson, on Inauguration Day 2021, Twitter will facilitate the transfer of institutional White House Twitter accounts like @WhiteHouse, @LaCasaBlanca, @POTUS, @VP, @PressSec and @Flotus.

  • "The accounts will not automatically retain their existing followers," the company said in a statement. Instead, Twitter says it will notify followers of those accounts to let them know that the content from those accounts will be archived with the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).
  • The official accounts will be renamed to reflect the administration they belonged to (i.e. — @POTUS will be renamed @POTUS45). This is a similar process that has been used in years past, but what's different is that the Biden administration will inherit the @POTUS account with zero followers.
  • At the time of this change, Twitter says it will notify followers of those accounts about the archival process, and it will offer those users the choice to follow the Biden administration’s new accounts by Twitter.
  • "For example, people who follow @WhiteHouse will be notified that the account has been archived as @WhiteHouse45 and given the option to follow the new @WhiteHouse account," Twitter said in a statement.

Between the lines: Trump will be able to keep his personal account @realdonaldtrump, which has amassed over 87 million followers, but some of the protections he had as a prominent world leader will not carry over once he leaves office, sources tell Axios.

  • That means he is more susceptible to measures being taken against his account if he repeatedly breaks Twitter’s rules.

Be smart: Twitter has not publicly given a reason for why it's making the change, but the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that it may be in part because the transition of followers from the Obama and Trump administrations experienced tech glitches and some user complaints.

The big picture: The Biden-Harris transition committee has been working with Twitter to ensure all of the administration's cabinet officials and staffers are set up with publicly-facing accounts. Twitter has already started to help set up official accounts for Cabinet nominees like Janet Yellen, Alejandro Mayorkas and Cecilia Rouse. 

Go deeper

Twitter troll charged with 2016 election interference

Photo: Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The Justice Department charged a pro-Trump former Twitter user with election interference for posts encouraging users to vote via text in the 2016 election.

Why it matters: The DOJ believes this is the first criminal case charging an American with suppressing the vote via disinformation on Twitter.

Jan 28, 2021 - Technology

Scoop: Verified tweeters smashed records sharing deceptive content

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Verified accounts on Twitter shared more content from deceptive websites than ever in 2020, according to new research from the German Marshall Fund shared exclusively with Axios.

Why it matters: Verified accounts are supposed to help social media users seek out trustworthy information and know who they're hearing from. If verified users constantly share false information, it defeats the purpose and reinforces false narratives.

By the numbers: Where the earmarks are wanted

Expand chart
Data: House Committee on Appropriations; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios

The Dallas-Fort Worth area is being targeted for the largest collective earmark request in the country, according to a detailed breakdown of overall requests released by the House Appropriations Committee.

Why it matters: House appropriators are trying to balance bipartisan momentum for infrastructure investment with "pork-barrel" spending's checkered political history. The data dump is an effort to provide transparency for what are now termed "community project funding" requests.