Twitter blames rogue employee for deactivating Trump account

3 Nov 2017

US president Donald Trump. Image: JStone/Shutterstock

While Twitter initially blamed human error for the temporary disappearance of the US president’s account, it was, in fact, a deliberate action.

For a brief window of time around 11pm UTC yesterday (2 November), anyone searching for US president Donald Trump’s Twitter account (@realDonaldTrump) would have been met with an error message stating: “Sorry, that page doesn’t exist!”

Trump’s account had been temporarily pulled from the Twitter site, but was swiftly restored.

Human error at Twitter?

In a statement, Twitter initially said that Trump’s account was “inadvertently deactivated due to a human error by a Twitter employee”, and that the company was taking steps to prevent such an incident reoccurring.

Almost two hours later, a further statement from the company’s government and elections team clarified that the account was deactivated by a customer support staff member on their final day at the job. The statement said that a full internal review would be carried out.

For the handful of moments that Trump’s account was down, many people were overjoyed. Of course, their jubilation was short-lived as the account was restored not even 15 minutes after it was initially deactivated.

Calls to suspend Trump are not new

The site has been called on many times to suspend Trump’s account due to his inflammatory posts – for example, his military threats made to North Korea on the website.

Some people also speculated that his account had been hacked. The Guardian pointed out Trump’s previous history of poor cybersecurity practices, citing his use of an unsecured Android phone when he moved into the White House last year. Last January, Trump admitted to using an old and unsecured Android device, which experts identified as a Samsung Galaxy S3, a phone released in 2012, beyond the point where it would receive any security updates.

US president Donald Trump. Image: JStone/Shutterstock

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects