Back in December, Twitter implied that it wouldn’t hesitate to ban Donald Trump if he broke the site’s rules on threats and harassment. The company changed its stance in September, explaining that the “newsworthiness” of his tweets meant he wouldn’t be removed. But it briefly looked as if Trump really had been banned from his favorite site yesterday after the @realdonaldtrump account was temporarily deactivated.
Just before 4 pm PT, Trump’s twitter page brought up the message, “Sorry, that page doesn’t exist.” It remained there for 11 minutes before the account was reinstated.
Twitter initially said that the removal was due to “human error” by one of its employees. “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.
A second @TwitterGov post revealed that this wasn’t so much an error as a deliberate action by a worker on their final day at the company.
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. https://t.co/mlarOgiaRF— Twitter Government (@TwitterGov) November 3, 2017
“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,” read the second statement.
Before Trump’s account returned, people speculated that Twitter may have listened to calls for the president to be banned over his threatening language toward North Korea. Others suspected he may have deleted the account himself, or had been hacked as a result of his notoriously bad security practices.
Trump’s Twitter was deactivated by a “Twitter customer support employee who did this on the employee’s last day.”— Philip Lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) November 3, 2017
The incident has raised concerns over how a single person could remove the president of the United States’ Twitter account, which he often uses for official policy announcements. Citing sources familiar with the company, Recode reports that Twitter’s Trust and Safety team can suspend or remove accounts, but this ability is limited.
There had been internal talks about introducing special requirements when removing high-profile accounts, but nothing was ever implemented.
Donald Trump has yet to post any tweets addressing the incident.
Update: Trump has now responded.
My Twitter account was taken down for 11 minutes by a rogue employee. I guess the word must finally be getting out-and having an impact.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) November 3, 2017