During administration, Barack Obama sets social media precedent for presidents
Barack Obama’s presidency contained a lot of firsts during his eight years in office: First African-American president, first president to publicly endorse same-sex marriage, first president to have his official portrait taken with a digital camera — the list goes on.
But there’s one first that had a lasting impact throughout Obama’s presidency: His constant and historic use of social media.
Obama was the first president to fully embrace the use of social media throughout his campaign and his presidency. It could be argued that he paved the way for President-elect Donald Trump’s unfiltered social media use.
Through social media outlets including Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, Obama and those who surrounded him throughout his administration — including Vice President Joe Biden and First Lady Michelle Obama — have made history in as few as 140 characters.
Let’s take a look back at Obama’s social media use and the social and historical differences he has made because of it.
MySpace may be nearly irrelevant now, but that didn’t stop Obama from creating an account during his first campaign. His account was followed by 1.6 million people as of Thursday. In 2008, he boasted more MySpace friends than his political rival, U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).
Under the White House account, Obama has used YouTube to publish press conferences, daily briefings and other public statements for the American people to watch. The YouTube account has also published conferences and talks led by Biden, Michelle and White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest.
The use of YouTube also allowed the American people to get a behind the scenes look and see the Obamas in a more casual setting, such as this one:
In 2007, Obama’s campaign team established his Facebook page. The campaign spent more than $640,000 of its internet budget on Facebook promotion at the time.
Today, the page is now verified — meaning that the account is authentic and has been confirmed by the social media organization — and is liked by 52.6 million people. Obama has even embraced the newest aspect of Facebook, Facebook Live, to stream talks with economic advisors and share the country’s progress.
Obama was able to set the stage on the use of Twitter for presidential administrations, especially because of the social media platform’s spike in popularity during his presidency.
Not only does the president himself have a Twitter account under the handle @POTUS, Michelle has her own account — @FLOTUS — and so does Biden, under @VP. White House officials have maintained that these accounts will be controlled by the incoming administration’s staff.
Obama has set two records for the most retweeted tweets, with one on his personal account shortly after winning reelection in 2012:
Four more years. pic.twitter.com/bAJE6Vom
— Barack Obama (@BarackObama) November 7, 2012
And the other on his @POTUS account from his farewell address on Tuesday, which has more than 735,000 retweets and 1.5 million likes, as of Wednesday:
Thank you for everything. My last ask is the same as my first. I'm asking you to believe—not in my ability to create change, but in yours.
— President Obama (@POTUS44) January 11, 2017