White House explains why it unfollowed PM Modi, President Kovind on Twitter

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Updated: Apr 30, 2020 10:05 PM

During President Donald Trump's visit to India in the last week of February, the official Twitter handle of the White House had started 'following' the accounts of President Kovind, PM Modi, PMO, the Indian Embassy in the US, the US Embassy in India and the US Ambassador to India, Ken Juster.

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

The White House has 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 US, the US Embassy in India and the US 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 US 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 Wednesday 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, Prime Minister Modi, the PMO and the 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.

Asked why the White House and President Trump unfollowed Modi and the prime minister’s office, External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Anurag Srivastava in New Delhi on Thursday referred to the explanation by the White House.
“White House official has clearly stated facts about it that they briefly follow Twitter accounts of senior government officials of host countries during presidential visits. “This is done so that officials of host countries can retweet their messages in support of the visit. I think that clarifies the matter.”

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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