White House briefly follows Twitter accounts of host country during presidential visit, says official on ‘unfollowing’ PM Modi

The official was responding to a question on the reasons for the White House ‘following’ and then ‘unfollowing’ the Twitter handles of President Kovind, PM Modi, the PMO and other Indian officials.

Updated - April 30, 2020 06:42 am IST

Published - April 30, 2020 06:23 am IST - Washington

Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, and the President of United States of America, Donald Trump, at a joint press conference after their meeting at the Hyderabad House in New Delhi on February 25, 2020.

Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, and the President of United States of America, Donald Trump, at a joint press conference after their meeting at the Hyderabad House in New Delhi on February 25, 2020.

The White House Wednesday explained that its Twitter handle typically ‘follows’ the accounts of officials from host countries for a brief period during a presidential trip to retweet their messages in support of the visit.

During President Donald Trump’s visit to India in the last week of February, the official Twitter handle of the White House (@WhiteHouse) had started ‘following’ the accounts of President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Prime Minister’s office, the Indian Embassy in the U.S., the U.S. Embassy in India and the U.S. Ambassador to India, Ken Juster.

Early this week, the White House ‘unfollowed’ all these six Twitter handles.

“The White House Twitter account normally follows senior U.S. government Twitter accounts, and others as appropriate. For example, during the time of a presidential visit, the account typically follows for a short time, the host country’s officials to retweet their messages in support of the visit,” a senior administration official told PTI on the condition of anonymity.

The official was responding to a question on the reasons for the White House ‘following’ and then ‘unfollowing’ the Twitter handles of President Kovind, PM Modi, the PMO and other Indian officials.

The White House ‘unfollowing’ the Twitter accounts of President Kovind and PM Modi drew reactions on social media in India.

Senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said he was “dismayed” at the development.

“I’m dismayed by the “unfollowing” of our President & PM by the White House. I urge the Ministry of External Affairs to take note,” he said in a tweet on Wednesday.

As of Wednesday, the White House had 22 million followers.

It has traditionally been following 13 accounts including that of President Donald Trump and his official Twitter handle, the First Lady, the Vice President, the Second Lady, the new Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany, the National Security Council and the former White House Press Secretary, Stephanie Grisham, among others.

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