UPDATE: Twitter announced they have implemented new safeguards to make sure this type of thing never happens again, and that they're taking this "very seriously."
Update: We have implemented safeguards to prevent this from happening again. We won’t be able to share all details about our internal investigation or updates to our security measures, but we take this seriously and our teams are on it. https://t.co/8EfEzHvB7p— Twitter Government (@TwitterGov) November 3, 2017
On Thursday night, President Donald Trump's personal Twitter account @RealDonaldTrump mysteriously vanished for 11 minutes before being restored. Trying to access any of the president's tweets resulted in a "Sorry, that page doesn't exist!" message, meaning that the account has been deactivated by the user rather than suspended. Needless to say, people were perplexed.
What. Donald Trump's Twitter account, @realDonaldTrump, has gone. pic.twitter.com/EUNHvfXHhn— Jamie Ross (@JamieRoss7) November 2, 2017
Eventually, Twitter's official government and elections account @TwitterGov tweeted an explanation, saying that the account was "inadvertently deactivated due to human error." Twitter said that steps would be made to prevent this sort of thing from happening again.
Earlier today @realdonaldtrump’s account was 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.— Twitter Government (@TwitterGov) November 3, 2017
As it turns out, the actual culprit wasn't so much "human error" but more of "rogue employee with nothing to lose." The person who deactivated the account was a Twitter customer support employee, whose last day with the company was Thursday. Presumably, he or she is not the biggest fan of President Trump.
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
For what it's worth, President Trump joked about the incident later:
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
While thankfully everything was restored, it is somewhat troubling that a single employee with a grudge has the power to take down the president of the United States' Twitter account. Trump has used Twitter very differently than former President Barack Obama, and he has announced policy changes on the platform. Do Twitter employees have the ability to write tweets from the @RealDonaldTrump account, too? It's not hard to imagine this being abused by another employee who isn't a fan of Trump. These are very important questions that should probably be answered quickly.