President Obama speaks during a commencement ceremony at Lake Area Technical Institute in Watertown, S.D., on May 8. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty Images)

This story has been updated.

After more than six years in office, President Obama got his own Twitter account Monday.

"Hello, Twitter! It's Barack," his first tweet read. "Really! Six years in, they're finally giving me my own account."

Until now, the president had occasionally tweeted on a converted campaign account, @BarackObama, using his initials to indicate it was a personal tweet. Now, with a description that reads, "Dad, husband, and 44th President of the United States," and a warning his tweets might be archived, he can tweet officially.

"The @POTUS Twitter account will serve as a new way for President Obama to engage directly with the American people, with tweets coming exclusively from him," the White House said in a statement. "President Obama is committed to making his Administration the most open and participatory in history, and @POTUS will give Americans a new venue to engage on the issues that matter most to them."

All of the messages from the @POTUS account will come directly from the president, aides said. One of the reasons it took so long for Obama to launch his own account is that someone else had already acquired the handle but was not actively using it: The White House worked with Twitter to obtain it.

President Obama started his own Twitter account on Monday. Within 45 minutes of sending his first tweet, Obama gained more than 217,000 followers. (Reuters)

And while the notice that the initial tweet came from an iPhone prompted widespread speculation that Obama was now using an Apple product to capture his inner musings, administration officials said the phone shown in the picture the White House put out belongs to the Executive Office of the President.  The president's phone was not used to send his tweet Monday.

Obama is already following several dozen Twitter accounts, including the universities he's attended, several Chicago sports teams and multiple administration officials.

Unsurprisingly, the account amassed tens of thousands of followers — and replies — within minutes of its launch:

https://twitter.com/twitter/status/600359093128208385

And at least one question:

The White House's deputy director of online engagement, Alex Wall, had already answered: the new Twitter handle will be passed on to the next president when Obama leaves office.

Update: