White House preserves Obama administration’s social media in digital archive

white house obama archive the obamas barack michelle
Pete Souza/White House
The White House is teaming up with Giphy, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and other organizations and companies to preserve Barack Obama administration’s social media history.

Chief among the new offerings is an open social media archiving platform — built by software company ArchiveSocial — that lets the public access more than 250,000 online posts shared by President Obama, the White House, and First Lady Michelle Obama. Users can search the Obama archive by keyword or utilize the advanced search tab to access posts from specific platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, Google Plus, and Flickr.

Since taking office in 2009, Barack Obama adopted social media like no other president before him. His administration created more than 100 official social media profiles across the aforementioned social platforms and on YouTube, Periscope, Snapchat, and Vimeo. Additionally, a little-known blast from the past, Obama even had a Friendster account. As a result, the outgoing president leaves behind a trove of data, which the White House maintains must be archived “in the interest of historical preservation and transparency.”

This data also includes GIFs, with the White House tapping Giphy to devote a page on its website to all the GIFs the Obama administration has ever shared.

Additionally, the MIT Media Lab’s Electome group is launching an interactive tool in collaboration with programmer Derek Lieu that compares tweets shared by the White House with a sampling of those shared by the public. In its summary, the MIT Media Lab states that the official @potus Twitter account devoted its largest share of tweets (22 percent) to gun issues. On the other hand, Michelle Obama’s @flotus account tweeted the most about veterans (40 percent), whereas @whitehouse focused on energy and the environment. The election-engaged public, however, was more concerned with an altogether different topic, tweeting most about immigration (10 percent).

If you are keen to relive Obama’s tweets instead of just searching for them, you’re in luck. The White House is teaming up with Oregon-based studio Feel Train on a Twitter bot (@Relive44) that will retweet a selection of the Obama administration’s tweets over the next eight years.

Aside from its online offerings, two White House-related hackathons are set to take place — hosted by the New York University’s Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP), and the Internet Archive on Friday and Saturday, respectively. The latter is also making White House social media data available to download from its website.

You can find out more about the social media initiatives and events the White House is launching on its blog.

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