Friday, November 16th, 2018 am30 8:33am

A Twitter glitch autofollowed some users to Trump’s @POTUS by mistake

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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.

We are aware of the issue with migrating @POTUS followers and investigating. More soon.

— Twitter Support (@Support) January 21, 2017

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.

screen-shot-2017-01-20-at-10-45-44-pmThe 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.

@sarahintampa I can confirm that I had never followed POTUS, FLOTUS or VP but was forced to Follow all three.

— Jimi Kunkel (@JimiKunkel) January 21, 2017

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:

@xfsista@Amy_Marie97 Holy shit, I just checked — Twitter autofollowed the Cheeto for me! (I made a DEFINITE point of unfollowing last nt!)

— Jose Molina (@JoseMolinaTV) January 21, 2017

Just checked it, @Twitter autofollowed AFTER I’d blocked the new acct. That’s dirty, Twitter. Real dirty.

— Rachel Kambury (@rkambury) January 21, 2017

Check your feed. Twitter autofollowed @potus after I blocked/reported the account today. Seems like it’s happening to several people.

— Phil (@PhilMQuinn) January 21, 2017

@mbuhtz@AdamHolisky@jack I blocked him and I STILL autofollowed. Truly reprehensible.

— The Cranky Tank (@MattFossen) January 21, 2017

OMG I had the POS POTUS BLOCKED and I just autofollowed him? WTF, @twitter?

— The Cranky Tank (@MattFossen) January 21, 2017

@mayak46@Twitter@Support Close issue, but not quite the same. I specifically unfollowed the POTUS account last night. It autofollowed.

— Dan J (@RelUnrelated) January 21, 2017

@loosenuptrees blocking won’t work. I had POTUS blocked and it still autofollowed.

— amber treadway (@dervogelfamber) January 21, 2017

@caitykauffman You BLOCKED and Twitter autofollowed it? Yipes.

— s.e. smith (@realsesmith) January 21, 2017

@Amy_Marie97 and one person who was autofollowed to Trump said she was never following Obama.

— Cathy Willey (@crwilley) January 21, 2017

Make sure y’all weren’t autofollowed to these accounts. I know a lot of you unfollowed & blocked, but double check!

— ?Brittany ? (@brittany_reads) January 21, 2017

@Dylanhayden I didn’t follow the old one, and had BLOCKED this one and it STILL AUTOFOLLOWED

— amber treadway (@dervogelfamber) January 21, 2017

@jodimeadows@Twitter@Support same. and autofollowed flotus too. not cool. had them both blocked.

— embryonic hope ツ (@emotionsikness) January 21, 2017

Me, too. I have never followed that account. What the hell, @twitter?

— Kiersten White (@kierstenwhite) January 21, 2017

@simplyn2deep it wasn’t my phone, I unfollowed potus/flotus earlier as they archived accounts, twitter autofollowed HIM & HER later! Sneaky

— kerrie 48% (@kez193) January 21, 2017

So Twitter autofollowed @potus account despite me unfollowing two days ago. Maybe check yours too.

— angie (@angiep213) January 21, 2017

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:

@sarahkendzior@NPR looking into this now

— jack (@jack) January 21, 2017

Shortly thereafter, Twitter’s support account also confirmed the issue, and is investigating:

We are aware of the issue with migrating @POTUS followers and investigating. More soon.

— Twitter Support (@Support) January 21, 2017

While there may have been some complications during the @POTUS transition today, the issue is being resolved.

— Twitter Support (@Support) January 21, 2017

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:

@tmobrien@manymanywords@jack@mrdonut my bet: they renamed old account & populated follows for new account from snapshot. Then apply diffs

— Vijay Pandurangan (@vijayp) January 21, 2017

@tmobrien@vijayp@manymanywords@mrdonut yes. Script is taking some time to replay actions.

— jack (@jack) January 21, 2017

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:

@margaretcho def would not be ok. Should have only migrated followers of original POTUS. We’re on it.

— jack (@jack) January 21, 2017

Featured Image: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post/Getty Images


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