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Durham company archives presidential social media posts to preserve history

Posted January 20
Updated January 24

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— The White House wasn't the only thing outgoing president Barack Obama turned over to his predecessor on Friday—he also handed over the presidential social media accounts.

The accounts were wiped clean and turned over to President Donald Trump, whose picture replaced Obama's as soon as he took the oath of office. The tweets, pictures, videos, Facebook posts and other digital media from Obama's accounts, though, will be preserved by Durham-based ArchiveSocial for a presidential archive.

Obama's first tweet came in May 2015. From Facebook to Snapchat, his administration realized early on the growing power and reach of social media.

"Social media was going to be the most effective way to reach people, which is ultimately what the president wants to do," said Anil Chawla, the founder of ArchiveSocial.

Chawla created ArchiveSocial to help governments and companies save social media posts.

Last year, the Obama administration turned to ArchiveSocial to help preserve its social media legacy

"To work with the highest office in the land is a dream come true for our company," Chawla said. "The team here has been working with the White house since September to archive eight years of social media content—that archiving lasting all the way up until noon (Friday)."

This is about more than meeting legal requirements to preserve government communications.

ArchiveSocial built a public database of 250,000 posts, photos and videos shared by more than 100 official Obama administration accounts over the past eight years, and it's all searchable.

Chawla says it creates a valuable historical record.

"You see the course of society, the course of history through how the president communicates and how the White House shares the happenings of the world and also receives communications from the public," Chawla said.

Chawla says the national spotlight is good for his business, but it's also good for the Triangle's reputation as a tech hub.

"The spotlight doesn't always have to be on Silicon Valley, but a lot of great things are happening here in the Triangle," Chawla said.

Chawla says ArchiveSocial doesn't yet have an archiving agreement with the Trump administration.

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