ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
(Reading) Hello, Twitter. It's Barack. Really.
With that tweet, President Obama became a full-fledged member of the Twitterverse. The new account is @POTUS, which is the acronym for president of the United States. The White House says it will be a way for Mr. Obama to directly connect with the American people. NPR's Brian Naylor reports.
BRIAN NAYLOR, BYLINE: Obama's profile proclaims he's, quote, "dad, husband and 44th president of the United States." Now, it's not like Obama has been entirely absent from Twitter. The White House has been tweeting under @BarackObama, an account run by Organizing for Action, an outgrowth of the president's campaign. Obama's own tweets from that account were signed BO. There's also a White House account, @WhiteHouse. But according to a post on the White House blog, the @POTUS account will serve as a new way for President Obama to engage directly with the American people with tweets coming exclusively from him.
A White House official tweeted that the @POTUS Twitter handle will be passed down to future presidents. Obama's new Twitter account is, of course, verified, and so far he's following 65 people and institutions. The list is heavy on Chicago sports teams - the Blackhawks, White Sox, Bears and Bulls - along with Cabinet officers and various executive agencies. He's also following the three colleges and universities he attended - Columbia, Harvard and Occidental. No celebrities or, for that matter, journalists, yet. No word on whether retweets are not endorsements.
Some of the president's colleagues tweeted out welcomes. Vice President Joe Biden tweeted, (reading) hey @POTUS. See you around the neighborhood.
Adviser Valerie Jarrett proclaimed, (reading) the bear is loose on the Twittersphere. Welcome to the interwebs, Mr. President.
And from Michelle Obama, (reading) it's about time.
Brian Naylor, NPR News, Washington.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.