Donald Trump

Rogue Twitter employee deliberately shuts Trump’s account on their last day of work

For 11 minutes, the Twitterverse somehow existed without @realDonaldTrump

PUBLISHED : Friday, 03 November, 2017, 11:50am
UPDATED : Friday, 03 November, 2017, 9:14pm

A Twitter employee deliberately deactivated Donald Trump’s personal account on their last day of work, the company said on Thursday.

The move by the employee – who has not been named – meant that the president’s @realdonaldtrump account was down for 11 minutes.

During the brief period of downtime, soon before 4pm Pacific time, anyone going to the @realDonaldTrump Twitter page would see the message “Sorry, that page doesn’t exist!”

After widespread speculation about what had happened, Twitter initially said the account had been inadvertently deactivated “due to human error by a Twitter employee”.

“The account was down for 11 minutes, and has since been restored. We are continuing to investigate and are taking steps to prevent this from happening again,” the company said in a statement.

But soon after the company’s @Twittergov account posted another statement revealing the outage was due to employee sabotage.

“Through our investigation we have learned that this was done by a Twitter customer support employee who did this on the employee’s last day. We are conducting a full internal review,” the new statement said.

The company did not immediately reply to requests to clarify the process.

The company’s first statement had already stirred some speculation on its own site that a “rogue employee” had been responsible.

There have been continuing calls for Twitter to suspend Trump’s account, particularly when he made threats to North Korea. However, when Twitter does this it typically marks the profile with the message “account suspended”.

Before Twitter’s statement, some speculated that Trump himself may have deactivated his account or he may have been hacked. He has been criticised in the past for having poor security standards, continuing to use an old, unsecured Android phone when he moved into the White House instead of trading it for a secure, encrypted device approved by the Secret Service.

Trump later reacted to the brief account interruption in another tweet.

Twitter suspends accounts if they engage in abusive behaviour, if they have been hacked or if they are fake or promote spam. The San Francisco-based company has in the past suspended high-profile individuals including the rightwing provocateur Milo Yiannopoulos, after his sustained hate campaign against the actor Leslie Jones, and the rapper Azealia Banks, who spouted racist venom at the pop singer Zayn Malik.

Trump, who has more than 40 million followers on Twitter, is known for his love of the medium.

“It’s like owning your own newspaper – without the losses,” Trump said of the social media tool in 2012.

Ascending to the highest office in the United States has not reined in his 140-character outpourings, despite his promise in November 2016 to be “very restrained, if I use it at all” in his social media use once he became president.