Twitter Will Force Biden To Start From Zero on Official POTUS Account
- Twitter is forcing President-elect Joe Biden to start off with zero followers on the official @POTUS account when he takes over the handle.
- The decision reportedly frustrated Biden’s transition team since the same policy was not in place for president Trump, who inherited Barack Obama’s 14 million followers when he took office in 2017.
- The 30 million users who are currently following the @POTUS account will instead be sent a notification asking if they want to follow once Biden is President. The same notification will also go to users who follow Biden or Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’ personal accounts.
Twitter To Purge Followers From Official @POTUS Account
Twitter announced Thursday that when President-elect Joe Biden is inaugurated and takes control of the official @POTUS account, he will start off with zero followers.
Biden and his transition team are reportedly unhappy with the decision. The team claims that Twitter isn’t showing Biden the same respect it showed President Donald Trump when he took office.
At the time of Trump’s inauguration, the @POTUS account had 14 million followers from President Barack Obama’s tenure that were transferred over.
Twitter didn’t give a reason for this change in its official blog post laying out its transition plans. Instead, the platform only said, “As we did in 2017, Twitter is actively working with the US government to support the archival and transition of Twitter accounts across administrations.”
“As President-elect Biden is sworn in on January 20, 2021, Twitter will facilitate the transfer of institutional White House Twitter accounts,” it continued.
Every tweet on the accounts are both archived with the national archives, as well as @POTUS45, similar to how Obama’s are kept under the handle @POTUS44 for everyone to see.
When Biden takes office, anyone currently following @POTUS will receive a notification asking if they would like to follow. The same notice will go to anyone following Biden or Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’ personal accounts.
Counteracting the Purge
Members of Biden’s transition team have pointed out that Twitter’s decision is not only a new stance from the company, but also a novel stance in the industry.
Rob Flaherty, Digital Director for Biden, tweeted out his frustration over the situation, writing, “On inaug day: -FB is transferring @JoeBiden‘s followers over to POTUS. Snap is handing us @WhiteHouse. YT is giving us all of the @WhiteHouse Subs. Twitter is starting us at zero…but recommended the President of the United States tag other accounts to encourage growth.”
President Trump’s account currently boasts over 30 million followers. In an effort to ensure that Biden will have a similar reach on the platform, his transition team has created @PresElectBiden as well as @FLOTUSBiden and @SecondGentleman. Those accounts will be merged with their corresponding government accounts on the 20th.
Harris currently has an official government account, @SenKamalaHarris. That account, with all its followers, will be merged with the official account of the Vice-President.
See What Others Are Saying: (BBC) (The Hill) (Fox News)
#TrumpIsDead: Comedian Tests Twitter Moderation Under Elon Musk With Fake Hashtag
A Twitter exec said the platform is “focused on addressing the surge in hate content.”
The fake hashtag #TrumpIsDead began to trend on Twitter Tuesday afternoon as many used the phrase to protest the lack of moderation that has occurred on the platform since billionaire Elon Musk took over last week.
Comedian Tim Heidecker started the hashtag with a series of tweets last night.
“Here’s what we know: 1. Trump is dead (died badly) 2. @elonmusk has suppressed this news (or has he?) 3. Donald Trump Junior is now just plain Donald Trump. Please like and share,” he said
The former president is not dead but others joined the hashtag with open criticisms of Elon Musk and the way content has been moderated on Twitter recently, including the conspiracy theory Musk shared himself on Sunday about the attack on Paul Pelosi.
“If only Twitter had some kind of policy about spreading disinformation, but I guess since Elon himself did it the other day, it’s all fair game,” one person wrote.
Twitter has seen a sharp rise in the use of slurs and hateful content since Musk took charge. According to the Network Contagion Research Institute, the platform saw a 500% spike in the use of the n-word in the first 12 hours following the Tesla and SpaceX exec’s deal with Twitter officially closing.
However, Twitter’s Head of Safety & Integrity Yoel Roth tweeted on Monday that the company is taking action against the spike.
“Since Saturday, we’ve been focused on addressing the surge in hateful conduct on Twitter,” Roth said. “We’ve made measurable progress, removing more than 1500 accounts and reducing impressions on this content to nearly zero.”
But Roth did go on to say that some who report hateful content are receiving notifications saying the post they reported is not a violation. This is happening, Roth says, because Twitter treats “first person” and “bystander” reports differently, weighing bystander reports less heavily.
Musk has reported that he will be forming a content moderation council and will not be making any major content decisions until then.
See what others are saying: (Insider) (Washington Post) (Newsweek)
TikTok Denies Report of Harvesting User Data to Monitor Americans’ Locations
Forbes, which broke the story, continues to stand by its sources and article.
TikTok is denying a Thursday report from Forbes that claimed its parent company, ByteDance, planned to use location information to monitor specific American citizens.
The report focused on BytDance’s Internal Audit and Risk Control department, which is led by a Bejing executive. The department’s main purpose is to investigate current and former ByteDance employees in cases of misconduct, but according to Forbes, they have planned to collect the location data of U.S. citizens with no employment history with the company. In its report, Forbes noted that it is unclear whether or not the data was actually collected from devices by a Beijing-based team.
TikTok spokesperson Maureen Shanahan told Forbes that they collect approximate location information to “among other things, help show relevant content and ads to users, comply with applicable laws, and detect and prevent fraud and inauthentic behavior.”
But according to Forbes’ materials, ByteDance’s Internal Audit team was planning to use this location information to surveil individual American citizens, not to target ads. When asked, ByteDance did not answer questions about whether their Internal Audit team has specifically targeted U.S. government officials, activists, or journalists.
In a series of tweets on Thursday, TikTok and ByteDance denied Forbes’ claims.
“Forbes chose not to include the portion of our statement that disproved the feasibility of its core allegation: TikTok does not collect precise GPS location information from US users, meaning TikTok could not monitor US users in the way the article suggested,” one tweet stated.
“TikTok has never been used to ‘target’ any members of the U.S. government, activists, public figures or journalists, nor do we serve them a different content experience than other users,” the thread continued.
“Stand by Our Reporting”
When asked to comment, Forbes spokesperson Bill Hankes said to Variety, “We are confident in our sourcing, and we stand by our reporting.”
The author of the article, Emily Baker-White, also responded to TikTok’s accusations on Friday.
“We never mentioned GPS in the story. In fact, we quoted their spokesperson saying they collect approx location via IP address,” she tweeted. “Not using GPS does not mean they could not use that approx location to monitor certain individuals. Neither TikTok nor ByteDance denied anything we reported, either in the pre-publication process, when we told them what we planned to report and asked for comment, or since then. They have also not requested a story update.”
See what others are saying: (Forbes) (New York Post) (Variety)
Job Listings Suggest TikTok is Planning U.S. Fulfillment Centers
TikTok is looking to take on online shopping giants in its latest e-commerce move.
Insight from Job Postings
Social media platform TikTok has proven to be a major competitor for Meta’s Instagram and Facebook. Now it might just be taking aim at Amazon.
As first reported by Axios, job postings suggest that TikTok has started planning the building of global fulfillment centers in the U.S. for its e-commerce pursuits. TikTok has recently added more than a dozen LinkedIn postings for positions in Seattle and Los Angeles, including positions like Operation Research Engineer and Logistics Solution Manager.
TikTok has been executing a steady shift into e-commerce recently. The video app partnered with Shopify last summer, allowing merchants to have their storefronts on TikTok. TikTok is also negotiating a partnership with TalkShopLive for live shopping access in the United States.
A Shift to E-Commerce
While live shopping has been popular in Asia, it has not drawn the same attention in western countries. But, if the aforementioned partnership comes to fruition, live shopping in North America and the U.K. could see a substantial increase.
If their shopping features become popular, TikTok could be a serious competitor to online shopping giants like Amazon. In fact, TikTok is said to be working on a free return system similar to that of Amazon, though it does not appear to be working on its own ground transportation