Reach for the popcorn: Obama opens personal presidential Twitter account

140-character insights will come direct from @POTUS

Hold on to your hats, Barack Obama has arrived on Twitter in his formal position of President of the United States.

The @POTUS account - run by "Dad, husband, and 44th President of the United States" - tweeted earlier this morning and has, so far, managed over half a million followers in an hour or so.

Obama follows 65 other Twitter accounts, made up of US government departments, cabinet colleagues, the universities Obama has attended, and almost every Chicago sports team. He also follows ex-presidents Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush (Dubya's not on Twitter, he prefers Instagram), Vice President Biden, and his wife's official account @FLOTUS.

The first tweet was sent apparently from Obama's own iPhone in the Oval Office.

According to an accompanying blog post, the account will be the president's personal account and "will serve as a new way for President Obama to engage directly with the American people, with tweets coming exclusively from him".

"Tweets may be archived," the site warns, in line with White House records policy.

Multiple accounts

Like increasingly large numbers of executives, Barack Obama actually has a number of accounts that he can send 140-characters of information through. The @WhiteHouse Twitter account was set up in 2007 - before he took office. And the @BarackObama account was for a long time a campaigning account before going dead and then being revived.

Both accounts are almost exclusively used by others and mostly provide formal updates on whatever the president is up to or pushing that day: the White House staff in the first case; Obama's campaign team in the second. On the rare instances that the President himself has tweeted, his tweets have been signed off "bo".

Despite managing over 500,000 followers in just over an hour, the president has some way to go to reach the other accounts tied to him: @WhiteHouse has six million and @BarackObama has 59 million followers.

The big question however is: since this is the President's personal account, how long will it be before expediency gets the better part of diplomacy and we get to go through a pumped-up fake scandal in the media?

Will it being outrage at selfie-taking at a funeral with other world leaders? Or not paying sufficient attention during a dull public event? Or responding to a story without all the facts and having to hold another beer summit? Will he call @KanyeWest a jackass? Will frustration with Congress boil over into insult?

All of these things have happened without a personal presidential account, but now the opportunity is there for them to happen faster and in retweetable ways.

Every tweet, no matter how banal, can be a story. Ladies and gentlemen, we have found the new Google Doodle. ®


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