Why Joe Biden Has Millions Fewer Twitter Followers than Trump Did One Month into Office

Roughly one month into his presidency, Joe Biden's @POTUS Twitter account has far fewer followers than Donald Trump did this time in 2017.

As of February 22, 2021, Biden's presidential account had amassed roughly 7.9 million followers. At this time in 2017, Trump's @POTUS profile, inherited from Barack Obama, had about 15.6 million, according to a snapshot from the Internet Archive.

So did Trump's account gain 7.7 million more followers over the same month and does it suggest his version was more popular than Biden's? No.

Under new Twitter rules this year, Biden's social media profiles had started from zero as presidential accounts from the Trump era were archived. When he took office in January 2017, Trump inherited about 13 million followers from Obama's @POTUS account.

In that context statistics suggest in the same period of time, Trump's @POTUS following expanded by about two million users, 5.9 million fewer than Biden achieved.

By the end of Trump's presidency, the @POTUS and @WhiteHouse Twitter accounts had a combined following of approximately 60 million, which did not carry over. The decision angered members of the Biden administration's incoming digital team.

"They are advantaging President Trump's first days of the administration over ours," Rob Flaherty, White House digital strategy director, told Bloomberg in January. "If we don't end the day with... followers that Donald Trump inherited from Barack Obama, then they have given us less than they gave Donald Trump, and that is a failure."

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

— Rob Flaherty (@Rob_Flaherty) January 15, 2021

Twitter said in a blog post on January 14, six days before Biden was inaugurated, that unlike in 2017 when it automatically shifted followers over to Trump, the platform would instead use an in-app alert to tell users about the new presidential profiles.

It conceded institutional accounts would not "automatically retain the followers from the prior administration." Still, President Biden's following surged quickly.

Throughout this administration, Trump primarily shared his posts via a personal account —@RealDonaldTrump—which had amassed more than 88 million followers before it was permanently suspended after the U.S. Capitol Building riots on January 6, 2021.

As he entered the White House, it became clear that the @RealDonaldTrump account would be the main outlet for the president over the next four years.

"It's working—the tweeting, I thought I'd do less of it, but I'm covered so dishonestly by the press—so dishonestly—that I can put out Twitter—and it's not 140, it's now 280—I can go bing bing bing . . . and they put it on and as soon as I tweet it out—this morning on television, Fox—'Donald Trump, we have breaking news," Trump told The Sunday Times newspaper in an interview at the time, as Gizmodo reported.

The White House has been contacted for comment by Newsweek.

According to follower analytics recorded by Factba.se, Trump's personal account had 25,411,758 Twitter followers as of February 22, 2017. Biden had 1,668,714. As of this week, Biden's personal account had 28.6 million followers. Trump remains banned.

President Joe Biden
President Joe Biden speaks on COVID-19 response in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, DC on January 26, 2021. Roughly one month into his presidency, Joe Biden’s @POTUS account has about half of the followers Donald Trump had this time in 2017. MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty