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Obama Starts Personal Facebook Page


President Obama on the South Lawn of the White House last month. Credit Zach Gibson/The New York Times

The leader of the free world now has a personal Facebook page, and more than 45,000 people clicked “like” on it in the first hour it was live on Monday.

It seems unlikely that a man whose daily schedule often includes meetings with world leaders and briefings on national security will have much time to post pictures of his meals or comment on pet photos. But as The Times reported this week, Mr. Obama now has a 20-member social media team at the White House that aims to bring more spontaneity and accessibility to the presidency, a position that has become highly choreographed and constricted in modern times.

“President Obama. Public Figure.” That is what the new Facebook page says, its birth announced just after 1:21 p.m. Monday on The White House Twitter account.

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The first item for Nov. 9 invited readers to ”take a walk” with the president on the White House grounds.

“Hello, Facebook! I finally got my very own page,” Mr. Obama’s posting said. “I hope you’ll think of this as a place where we can have real conversations about the most important issues facing our country – a place where you can hear directly from me, and share your own thoughts and stories. (You can expect some just-for-fun stuff, too.)”

It was the latest foray for the president into social media, following the launch of his @potus Twitter account in June 2013, that now commands about five million followers. And his political campaigns have long run accounts in his name on both Facebook and Twitter, with occasional signed posts from him.

Mr. Obama’s new Facebook timeline takes readers through an autobiographical trip down memory lane, from the photograph of his wedding to Michelle Obama in Chicago in 1992 to his 2009 swearing-in ceremony as the 44th president of the United States. The older items quickly attracted likes and comments as well.

In the About column, President Obama is described as “Dad, husband, and 44th President of the United States. Comments and messages received through this account may be archived: wh.gov/privacy.”

“I’m kicking it off by inviting you to take a walk with me in my backyard — something I try to do at the end of the day before I head in for dinner,” he said by way of introduction in his first posting.

He then invited readers to weigh in with questions and comments about climate change, mentioning that he is on his way to Paris to meet with world leaders on a global agreement.

“I hope you’ll join me in speaking out on climate change and educating your friends about why this issue is so important. At a time when nearly three in four adults online use Facebook, this feels like a great place to do it. Share your thoughts in the comments, and pass this message on to folks you think need to see it.”


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