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You can now take selfies, but not selfie sticks, on the White House tour

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Susan Walsh/AP

(Read caption) People take photos while touring the White House in Washington, Wednesday, July 1, 2015. The White House says visitors can now take photos or use social media during public tours of the building.

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Selfies and social media have finally brought the White House tour into the 21st century.

The White House announced Wednesday that it would allow photos on the tour for the first time in 40 years.

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"Effective today, guests are now welcome to take photos throughout the White House tour route and keep those memories for a lifetime," the White House said in a statement.

In a video posted to Instagram, first lady Michelle Obama ripped up a sign that read “no photos or social media allowed,” which was posted in various spots along the tour.

But while visitors can now take out their phones or small fixed-lens cameras to snap a picture, there are still restrictions on what is allowed. Lenses longer than three inches are prohibited, as is flash photography and live-streaming.

Various accessories also remain banned including video cameras, cameras with detachable lenses, tablets, and tripods.

And in a crushing blow to younger visitors, “selfie sticks” are also not permissible. Selfie sticks – extenders for hand-held cameras – have been banned at other places, including Disney, at least in part because of safety concerns.

The White House is encouraging people to share their tour photos online with the hashtag #WhiteHouseTour. A number of photos have already been posted to various social media sites.

The new policy is the latest move by the first lady to expand access to the residence on the tour. In February, she announced the addition of the Old Family Dining Room on the public tour for the first time in White House history.  

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Requests to tour the White House must be submitted to one's member of Congress. But for those who want to explore the residence from the comfort of a computer screen, a virtual tour exists.