Politics

Twitter Accounts Are Following Trump’s POTUS Handle Without User’s Consent And People Are Pissed

Twitter

Story Updated 01/21/2017

An unusual situation arose on Twitter Friday night when many users reported finding themselves following Donald Trump’s @POTUS handle without their consent. With Trump now occupying the office of President, all social media handles previously used by Barack Obama and Michelle Obama, @POTUS and @FLOTUS, were turned over to Donald and Melania Trump, with all previous tweets and messages archived to new handles, @Potus44 and @Flotus44. Citizens that didn’t particularly care to follow the new President and First Lady, unfollowed the accounts only to find themselves following again, without their knowledge or consent. Some users even reported their accounts following the handles although they had never followed them before.

Twitter
Twitter

Angry users took the issue to Twitter co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey, @Jack, who insisted it was just a technical glitch, claiming a script was simply taking a long time to run the unfollow request and users accounts would eventually unfollow.

Twitter
Twitter

Twitter seems to have implemented a script to migrate all of the old content on the POTUS handle to the new Potus44 handle, which could account for the erratic following if the script took the followers to the new account (which they usually would) and then the followers were moved back to the original account. Some eagle-eyes watching the social media transfer throughout the day noted the dramatic drop in followers after the migration, when Trump first took over the handle, and then a few hours later when the account experienced a sudden jump in followers to numbers matching, almost exactly, the followers the account originally had.

With widespread fears of Trump’s authoritarian tendencies and strange obsession with the social platform, a “glitch” like this only serves to further stoke the flames of suspicion among concerned citizens. And although the explanation makes sense on the surface, it still fails to explain why users who never followed the President’s account to begin with would suddenly be following – a question Jack, himself, can’t seem to answer at this time:

Twitter
Twitter

Some users reported blocking the POTUS and FLOTUS handles resolved the issue but others still seem to be stuck following the new President and First Lady.

So, technical glitch or dystopian plot by an authoritarian regime? As someone familiar with technology, I lean on the side of glitch for those who were following POTUS originally. But for those who were never following and found themselves hijacked, I suppose we’ll have to wait for Twitter to figure out what’s actually going on. If there’s one thing we need to take away from this, it’s to know who you’re following on social media and keep track of your account. Because you never know what could happen.

UPDATE:

Twitter has since investigated the issue and here is what they found:

The Obama administration set up the @POTUS handle to be transitioned from president to president with followers intact, but with previous tweets migrated to a new handle. What they didn’t account for were the massive numbers of people who would want to unfollow the incoming president, thus: human error, meet technology – technology, meet human error. Overall, it’s still a good idea to keep an eye on your account and always be aware of the accounts you mean to follow and those you don’t. If you want to continue to follow Barack and Michelle Obama on Twitter, you can do so on their personal handles, @BarackObama and @MichelleObama. You can find Joe Biden, @JoeBiden.

 

 

 

 

3D artist, feminist, writer, gamer. I want to be Agent Carter when I grow up.

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