Twitter apologises for forcing people to follow Trump

"No excuses" for @POTUS error that affected more than half a million users...

Twitter apologises for forcing people to follow Trump

Picture by John Locher AP/Press Association Images

While the transition of power in Washington DC ran fairly smoothly last Friday – bar some drama over the reporting of attendance at the inauguration – it was an altogether messier affair on Twitter as Donald Trump, now ensconced in the White House, took over the @POTUS reins from the outgoing Barack Obama.

Another week, another case of Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey attempting to address a PR nightmare for the microblogging service.

At a minute past noon on Friday, the slate was wiped clean on @POTUS, with Obama's tweets now archived on @POTUS44. While it made sense that Trump would retain the follower numbers @POTUS had due to it being an institutional rather than personal account – with it taking a number of hours for these 14.3m to transfer – issues arose when it came to people who had previously unfollowed the account being re-added, and fresh followers of @POTUS44 also being added to Trump's account. Over half a million users were affected, with the company moving to correct the errors and apologise unreservedly. 

Dorsey released this statement to clear matters up:

The Obama Administration worked with all their platforms to craft a transition plan. Because @POTUS is an institutional account (not personal) they felt it only fair to transition accounts with followers intact, but 0 tweets. We kicked off that plan at 12p Eastern yesterday.

If you were following @POTUS before 12pET, by end of day you’d be following *two* accounts: @POTUS44 (44th Admin) and @POTUS (45th Admin).

Two issues were reported during the day which we spent the night confirming and have now corrected:

1. People who followed @POTUS44 (Obama Admin) after 12pET were mistakenly set to also follow @POTUS (Trump Admin).

2. Some people who unfollowed @POTUS in the past were mistakenly marked to now follow @POTUS We believe this affected about 560,000 people.

This was a mistake, it wasn’t right, we own it, and we apologize. No excuses. This also affected other official Administration accounts like @VP, @WhiteHouse, and @PressSec. We believe we’ve corrected all accounts to reflect your follow/unfollow intent. We’re sorry for the mistakes made here, and thank you all.


Picture by Steven Senne AP/Press Association Images

Since Trump took control of @POTUS (whilst still tweeting @realDonaldTrump, which has 21.6m followers), Gizmodo has raised concerns over his deletion of a couple of messages. 

On Saturday, Trump tweeted: "I am honered (sic) to serve you, the great American People, as your 45th President of the United States!”

He then deleted it do to the "honored" misspelling and re-posted a corrected message. This tweet too, was subsequently deleted. Gizmodo has suggested this may be illegal, as it breaks rules regarding archiving official records. 

It writes:

"Both the Freedom of Information Act and Presidential Records Act require the commander in chief to painstakingly preserve all records of federal government actions and communications."