Nikki Haley Award

U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley chats with attendees during the Hudson Institute's 2018 Award Gala on Monday, Dec. 3, 2018, in New York. Haley received the Global Leadership Award for her contributions as a champion of human rights and strong American leadership abroad. Kevin Hagen/AP

In the weeks leading up to her departure from the United Nations, Ambassador Nikki Haley bemoaned the moving process by tweeting a photo of cardboard boxes with the hashtag "#MovingIsNeverFun."

Turns out, the boxes were just the start.

The former South Carolina governor, an avid social media user who had amassed 1.67 million Twitter followers, said she was forced to make a digital move to a new Twitter account, citing State Department rules implemented during the Obama administration.

Her first post from the new and already verified @NikkiHaley account sounded less than thrilled about the social media switch-up.

"Due to State Dept rules that were changed by the outgoing administration, I have had to clear my personal Twitter account that I have had for years," Haley tweeted Tuesday. "The followers, the history, the pictures and all other content."

The social media cleanup and swap became mandatory during the Obama administration, and the rules are intended to keep political appointees from exploiting their social media accounts for personal use after they leave an administration for the private sector or retirement.

The requirement was first reported by Buzzfeed in 2017.

According to the chapter on social media use in the Foreign Affairs Manual, "senior officials and other employees whose positions make it appropriate for them to engage in official communications on behalf of the Department over social media ... must not use personal social media accounts to do so.  They must use official social media accounts, created and owned by the Department."

Haley did urge her established followers, "Please refollow and retweet this to your friends. Here's to 2019!"

By mid-day Wednesday, Haley's revamped Twitter account had amassed more than 200,000 followers and was following close to 450 accounts.

They include her husband Michael Haley, President Donald Trump, international ambassadors, media outlets and reporters, as well as think tanks like the Hudson Institute and the Heritage Foundation.

Haley also followed her own previous account, too.

Twitter declined to provide an official comment to The Post and Courier when the social media platform was asked about its involvement in the transition and archiving of Haley's Twitter account.

However, a Twitter spokesman confirmed the social media giant has worked with government offices around the world regarding similar social media matters as a result of political transitions.

Not all is lost for Haley, though.

Haley's past account, which has since been renamed @AmbNikkiHaley, will remain intact online and will be digitally archived by the State Department.

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First created in May 2009 when Haley was a member of the South Carolina Legislature, the original @nikkihaley account has morphed in its use over the years as Haley moved from one public office to the next.

An advanced search of the archived @AmbNikkiHaley account shows that tweets dating back to Haley's time as South Carolina's first female and Indian-American governor can still be found.

That archive includes Haley's Southern "Bless your heart" zinger that was directed at then-candidate Trump in 2016 after he misspelled her name in a tweet.

Haley announced her departure from the United Nations in October after serving in the role for two years.

The GOP star has not said publicly what her next move will be, and she has repeatedly deflected questions about her interest in a future presidential run.

But Haley retweeted a comment from Charlie Kirk, the founder of the conservative nonprofit Turning Point USA, who tweeted news of Haley's new account by saying, "She will be our first female President."

She also liked it.

Reach Caitlin Byrd at 843-937-5590 and follow her on Twitter @MaryCaitlinByrd.

Political Reporter

Caitlin Byrd is a political reporter at The Post and Courier and author of the Palmetto Politics newsletter. Before moving to Charleston in 2016, her byline appeared in the Asheville Citizen-Times. To date, Byrd has won 17 awards for her work.