Social Media

The future of 44


As the world prepares for a president-elect with a penchant for Twitter use to assume office, the White House is beginning to preserve the Obama administration's social media history.

In October, the White House encouraged private citizens to develop projects to archive the digital footprint of the first president to use Snapchat, stream with Facebook Live and have an official @POTUS Twitter handle in a way that is "both useful and available for years to come."

FCW first reported in August that the contents of various social media platforms linked to President Barack Obama will be collected and stored by National Archives and Records Administration, eventually to be used in Obama's presidential library. The accounts themselves will be cleared for the next administration.

In a blog post, White House Director of Product Management Joshua Miller detailed the projects developed by private citizens, companies and organizations that will be used to archive Obama's digital legacy:

ArchiveSocial, a private digital archiving startup, has consolidated more than 250,000 posts, photos and videos across more than 100 official presidential social media accounts into a single, searchable electronic archive.

Rhizome, an online art resource, is producing multimedia digital essays that connect the Obama administration to the social media age, including the historicizing of popular trending posts and the evolution of the "Thanks, Obama" meme.

GIPHY, the largest GIF search engine, is cultivating a collection of every GIF and Vine the Obama White House has ever shared as well as other Obama-related GIFs.

Beginning May 1, 2017, a Twitter account, @Relive44, run by a Portland, Ore.-based studio called Feel Train, will repost White House tweets over the next eight years to memorialize the Obama administration.

Internet Archive, a non-profit digital collection of 279 billion archived web pages, books and movies, is making its White House social media contents publicly downloadable and is hosting a public hackathon Jan. 7. has also made official Twitter, Facebook and Vine posts from President Obama and the first lady available for download.

Academic institutions have worked to develop digital projects as well.

The MIT Media Lab analyzed how White House tweets changed over time and compared the topics of the administration's tweets with those from citizen accounts.

Students in a graduate seminar at the University of Texas-Austin will leverage White House social media data for their term projects, and telecommunications fellows at New York University are hosting a hackathon Jan. 6 to develop additional projects.

About the Author

Chase Gunter is a former FCW staff writer.


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