This story has been updated.
"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.
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:
It's about time, @POTUS! –mo— First Lady- Archived (@FLOTUS44) May 18, 2015
Hey @POTUS – Welcome to Twitter. See you around the neighborhood. –vp pic.twitter.com/iaUVFtQVpk— VP Biden (Archived) (@VP44) May 18, 2015
@POTUS Follow for DM.— pourmecoffee (@pourmecoffee) May 18, 2015
And at least one question:
Welcome to @Twitter, @POTUS! One question: Does that username stay with the office? #askingforafriend— Bill Clinton (@BillClinton) May 18, 2015
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.
.@reidepstein Yep! @POTUS will be passed on to future Presidents. Here's a quick overview: http://t.co/l9gZkPaMZ1— Alex Wall (NARA) (@Alex44) May 18, 2015
Good question, @billclinton. The handle comes with the house. Know anyone interested in @FLOTUS?— President Obama (@POTUS44) May 18, 2015