It took only a few minutes for President Obama’s Twitter account to attract racist, hate-filled posts and replies.
WASHINGTON — When President Obama sent his inaugural Twitter post from the Oval Office on Monday, the White House heralded the event with fanfare, posting a photograph of him perched on his desk tapping out his message on an iPhone.
The @POTUS account — named for the in-house acronym derived from “President of the United States” — would “serve as a new way for President Obama to engage directly with the American people, with tweets coming exclusively from him,” a White House aide wrote that day.
But it took only a few minutes for Obama’s account to attract racist, hate-filled posts and replies. Posts addressed him with racial slurs, called him a monkey, and one had an image of the president’s neck in a noose.
The posts reflected the racial hostility toward the nation’s first black president that has long been expressed on the Internet, where conspiracy theories thrive and prejudices find ready outlets. But the racist tweets are different because now that Obama has his own Twitter account, the slurs are addressed directly to him, for all to see.
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Within minutes of Obama’s first, cheerful tweet: “Hello, Twitter! It’s Barack. Really!” it began. Twitter users lashed out in sometimes profanity-laced replies that included exhortations for the president to kill himself and worse.
One person posted a doctored image of Obama’s iconic campaign poster, instead showing the president with his head in a noose, his eyes closed. Instead of the word “HOPE’’ in capital letters as it appeared on the campaign poster, the doctored image had the words “ROPE.”
The accompanying tweet said “#arrestobama #treason we need ‘ROPE FOR CHANGE.’” It was addressed to @POTUS by a user calling himself @jeffgully49, who has posted other images of Obama in a noose, and whose Twitter profile picture shows Obama behind bars.
“We still hang for treason, don’t we?” his post said.
For the Obama administration, the tweets were ugly moments in what was otherwise a social-media-fueled show of love for Obama, who was drawing followers at a breakneck pace — nearly 2.3 million by Thursday morning — and hundreds of worshipful messages that welcomed him to Twitter and praised him on everything from his appearance to his policies.
“I love you, @POTUS,” wrote one person, @camerondallas, in a posting marked as a favorite more than 15,000 times.
“You do us proud, Mr. President,” wrote another, @KSchlossDiaz. “Honored by the great work you and #FLOTUS do!” the user added, using the acronym for first lady of the United States.
The administration had no immediate response Thursday to inquiries about the barrage of Twitter racism directed at the commander in chief.
The phenomenon is not surprising. The Twitter account @BarackObama, which was created eight years ago and is controlled by the liberal activist group Organizing for Action — not the president or anyone at the White House — has long been a target of racist tweets.