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It didn’t take long for President Barack Obama’s joyous inaugural post about joining the Twitterverse to attract vitriolic, profane, lewd and racist posts filled with slurs and threats.
One post is a Vine of an animated version of the president engaged in a lewd act. Another asked the president to participate in a graphic sexual act. Other posts directed racist slurs at the president.
One person altered a version of the president’s famous “Hope” campaign poster to depict the president hanging from a rope. The post read: “We need ‘ROPE’ FOR CHANGE we still hang from treason don’t we?”
The nation's first black president has long been the target of racist jokes and comments in Internet chat rooms and on social media.
However, this is a bit different because tweeting this type of material at the president is the equivalent of saying it to his face, said Andra Gillespie, an associate professor of political science at Emory University.
“It’s not surprising that people have these views,” Gillespie said. “What is so surprising about this is that somebody felt comfortable enough sending such provocative tweets to the president and that they didn’t hold the office in high enough regard to refrain from saying this to his face.”
The Secret Service monitors social media for threats.
It took Obama, whose presidential campaign and administration have been seen as particularly social media savvy, six years to join Twitter as @POTUS.
The White House sees such tweets as "offensive and disgusting".
However, opening the lines of communication through such venues as Twitter is "part of open society and it is, in the mind of the administration, worth it," White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters on Friday. "It's valuable to engage the American people in legitimate debate and dialogue."
The White House previously said such messages are often directed at the White House Twitter feed and those of other administration officials.
Earlier in the week, the White House said in a blog post that the new account "will serve as a new way for President Obama to engage directly with the American people, with tweets coming exclusively from him. President Obama is committed to making his Administration the most open and participatory in history, and will give Americans a new venue to engage on the issues that matter most to them."
The White House points out that the response to @POTUS, which had more than 2 million followers on Friday morning, has been largely positive.
And one follower had a particularly tongue-in-cheek response.
And President Obama had an equally cheeky quip.