For a brief time this month, the internet had two Argentinian presidents.
Newly-elected president Mauricio Macri was sworn into office on December 11, but the presidential Twitter account, @CasaRosadaAR, has remained under the control of outgoing president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner. She has refused to surrender the Twitter account, named for the presidential office of Argentina, or its official Facebook page, instead adding ‘2003-2015’ to each of the names and converting them to tributes to the time she and her late husband former president Nestor Kirchner spent governing Argentina.
The Casa Rosada Twitter account was created in 2007, after Fernandez de Kirchner first came to power following the 2003-2007 presidency of her late husband. The former president was known for her erratic and prolific web presence throughout her presidency, stirring the pot with offensive tweets about Chinese people from her personal account and once subtweeting the New York Times from the @CasaRosadaAR account.
The Twitter handle controversy is the latest move in a tense climate since Fernandez de Kirchner conceded her office to Macri, a conservative who represents a shift from the left wing populism of the Kirchners. Earlier this month scandal erupted after a squabble over where a ceremonious transfer of a presidential baton and sash would take place. Fernandez de Kirchner ultimately did not attend the ceremony.
Since Fernandez de Kirchner decided to maintain control of her account, Twitter has removed the blue verification check mark, as has Facebook. Fernandez de Kirchner is now using both social platforms to criticize the new president, including pointed posts showing he is vacationing during major flooding in the country.
The incident underscores the awkward transitions of power that translate to social media. In the United States, institutional social media accounts are passed over to the next administration when a new president is elected. As Fernandez de Kirchner has kept control of the old Twitter account, Macri has created his own, @CasaRosada. His first tweet heralded the coming of, “a time of dialogue.”