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White House lifts ban on photos, social media on public tours; some devices still not allowed

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WASHINGTON — Want to take a picture inside the White House landmark Blue Room? Well, it's now OK to pull out your cellphone or camera and press "shoot."

The White House on Wednesday ended a long-standing ban on tourists taking photos or using social media during public tours of the building.

First Lady Michelle Obama made the announcement in a video posted on her Instagram account.

PHOTO: Anthony Quintano of Hillsborough, N.J., holds up a sign against taking 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. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Anthony Quintano of Hillsborough, N.J., holds up a sign against taking 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. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

"If you've been on a White House tour, you may have seen this sign," she says holding up a placard that states "No Photos or Social Media Allowed." ''Well, not anymore," she adds, and then dramatically rips the sign in half.

The White House said the more than 40-year-old ban was lifted because changes in camera technology make it possible to take high-quality photos using less light. Strong light can damage the delicate pigments used in art work.

Tourists arriving Wednesday were busily taking pictures.

"I'm very happy they changed the rule. I'm taking as many as I can," said Michael Labrecque, who came to tour the White House from Florida with his wife and their two sons.

Still on the banned list are video cameras, including action camcorders, cameras with detachable lenses, tablets, tripods, monopods and camera sticks. Flash photography and live-streaming also remain prohibited.

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