The White House launches its own Snapchat account

Steven Loeb · January 11, 2016 · Short URL:

The announcement comes a day before President Obama's final State of the Union address

If you needed another indication that Snapchat really has entered the ranks of the elite social media networks, here it is: now the President of the United States even has his own account.

Actually, to be more accurate, it's the White House that now has the official account, it was announced on Monday. The timing of this seems pretty deliberate, since its only a  day ahead of the President's final State of the Union address.

"At the White House, our digital strategy centers around meeting people where they are. This decentralized approach, in response to the proliferation of social media, aims to provide the American people with a multitude of ways to engage with their government," Joshua Miller, the White House's Director of Product Management, wrote in a blog post.

The White House has already released its first official Story, and its actually kind of weird. It's just a video of a bowl of apple in the Oval Office. That's it. 30 seconds of a bowl of apples.

It promises to get better, though, as it "will take you behind the scenes of the White House's State of the Union preparations, with footage and angles you won’t find anywhere else," Miller said.

That sounds a lot more interesting than whatever this is supposed to be:

The Obama Presidency has been an interesting one when it comes to technology, as it is the first administration to exist with the proliferation of social media.

The White House has been attempting to take advantage of that recently, launching the @POTUS Twitter account in May of last year. His first Tweet has been liked over 415,000 times, with over 283,000 retweets. Then an official Presidential Facebook page came in November. The POTUS Twitter account now has 5.8 million followers, while the Facebook page has 1.4 million likes. 

Snapchat may seem a little out of the White House's comfort zone (I imagine it's used by more children of White House staffers than people who actually work there) but it is becoming one of the most popular networks, so much that it will likely pass Twitter in terms of monthly active users sometime this year. And the President is going to go wherever his message will reach the farthest. 

"There are over 100 million daily active Snapchat users, and over 60 percent of American smartphone users between the ages of 13 and 34 use the platform," said Miller.

"In light of the number of Americans who use the service to consume news and share with their friends, the White House is joining Snapchat to engage this broad cross-section of the population in new and creative ways."

Of course, this does raise some questions about keeping records of what was posted. Both the President's Twitter and Facebook pages mention that posts may be archived in order to comply with the Presidential Records Act. Given Snapchat's ephemeral nature, in which content is meant to be short lived, will that be an issue?

No, it won't be a problem, a White House official told Buzzfeed.

“With Snapchat as with other social accounts, we’ll be fully compliant with PRA requirements, saving and preserving snaps for archives,” the official said. “Occasionally that content may find its way onto other platforms, but you shouldn’t expect all of the Snapchat content to live somewhere on our website.”

Joshua Miller

Director of Product Management

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