President-elect Joe Biden’s digital team has taken issue with Twitter's decision to block Biden from inheriting President Trump’s followers on the platform – a practice at odds with previous presidential transitions.
"In 2016, the Trump admin absorbed all of President Obama's Twitter followers on @POTUS and @WhiteHouse -- at Team 44's urging," Biden Digital Director Rob Flaherty said on Twitter Tuesday. "In 2020, Twitter has informed us that as of right now the Biden administration will have to start from zero."
Flaherty later said the Biden team was told the move was "unequivocal" when they pushed back against the Twitter policy.
Biden will take office on Jan. 20, 2021 at which point twitter spokesperson Nick Pacilio said all White House accounts will transfer to the Biden administration, including @WhiteHouse, @POTUS, @VP, @FLOTUS, @PressSec, @Cabinet, and @LaCasaBlanca.
"The accounts will not automatically retain their existing followers," Pacilio said in a statement Tuesday. "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."
Pacilio said this is being done so that followers of the current @WhiteHouse account will be notified that the account has been archived as @WhiteHouse45, and they will be given the opportunity to then follow the new administration if they choose.
Trump has not only relied on Twitter as his main communication with the American people, he transformed how leaders traditionally choose to update the public – though his ability to continue utilizing the social media platform is likely to become more of a challenge for him after he leaves the White House.
Trump will no longer receive the same benefits the platform permits for leadership figures, reported the Wall Street Journal Tuesday – he will instead be scrutinized as a private citizen, and be required to follow the same policies.
Twitter has the ability to take various steps if their rules have been violated, including forcing the user to delete the tweet, limiting the ability to tweet, and suspension or deletion of an account, according to the platform’s enforcement policy.
Trump has had countless tweets marked with warnings advising users against the validity of the tweet. Most frequently the president has been slapped with numerous warnings that state, "this claim about election fraud is disputed," as Trump continues to claim without evidence that the election was stolen from him.
Trump has made it a mission in his administration to tackle Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act, which the president has called "a serious threat to our National Security & Election Integrity."
The law protects tech companies from third party or user content posted on their platform – a protection that Trump believes allows social media companies to be unfairly biased against conservative users.
Trump, along with congressional GOP officials, claim that social media firms like Twitter and Facebook unfairly censor conservative content without consequence. Silicon Valley's mainstays have insisted that their content polices are enforced without any political bias.
Republicans in Washington have looked to whittle down Section 230 in order to more easily prosecute tech giants.
Trump’s latest attempt to go after Silicon Valley is through the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which congress passed earlier this month.
Trump is expected to veto the measure -- which directs Pentagon spending -- in part because the legislation does not contain language on Section 230.
"I will Veto the Defense Bill, which will make China very unhappy. They love it," Trump tweeted Thursday. "Must have Section 230 termination, protect our National Monuments and allow for removal of military from far away, and very unappreciative, lands. Thank you!"
Congress plans to try and override his veto, but how Twitter will handle Trump's social media presence once he has left the White House remains to be seen.