A number of Twitter users tonight are claiming their accounts have somehow automatically followed the Twitter accounts, @POTUS, @FLOTUS and @VP – now in the hands of the Trump administration – even though they had never followed the White House accounts, had unfollowed these accounts before the transition, or had the accounts blocked.
This appears to be a glitch related to the handoff of the official White House Twitter accounts to the Trump administration.
As reported earlier, all the tweets from Obama’s term as president were archived under the new Twitter account, @POTUS44, and his then 13 million-plus followers were also migrated. (The account is up to over 14 million at the time of writing.) In addition, Obama’s followers were also set to automatically follow the new @POTUS account, now operated by the Trump team.
The same process took place for the @FLOTUS and @VP accounts, which were archived to @FLOTUS44 and @VP44, respectively.
It’s possible that some of the Twitter complaints are related to a misunderstanding about how this transition process works. They may not have been aware that they were going to be auto-followed to Trump’s @POTUS account when he took office.
What’s odd, though, is that some users are claiming they had never followed the @POTUS account, even during Obama’s term.
In other cases, they’re saying they had unfollowed the account ahead of Trump’s ownership, in order to not be migrated. Some even said they had blocked the account – a clear indication they didn’t want to see Trump’s tweets going forward.
But for whatever reason, their account automatically followed the @POTUS account anyway. (People seem less upset about being autofollowed to @FLOTUS and @VP accounts, but those are also mentioned in a number of tweets.)
Of course, it’s also possible that a handful of these users have a faulty memory. But there were too many complaints about the glitch for it to be a coincidence. It definitely looks like some kind of Twitter goof.
Here’s a sample:
Fair to say, many are angry about the issue or even accusing Twitter of doing Trump’s bidding. A more reasonable explanation is a glitch – after all, migrating millions of followers and thousands of tweets is no small matter.
If you’ve been automatically followed to any of the White House accounts, a single click will unfollow you.
We reached out to Twitter for more information, but given the hour, we didn’t expect an immediate response.
However, just ahead of publication, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey began responding to some complaints about this, saying that the company is now looking into what happened:
Shortly thereafter, Twitter’s support account also confirmed the issue, and is investigating:
Update, 1/21/17, 8 AM ET: It appears that part of the issue was how the transition process was handled from a technical standpoint. One Twitter user correctly guessed the problem, and @jack confirmed:
Twitter has not yet been able to confirm that some people who were never following @POTUS may have been autofollowed to the new Trump account. But @jack did say that shouldn’t have happened:
Update, 1/22/17: Twitter says the problem, which affected over half a million users, has been resolved. More on that here.