Twitter Employee Blamed For Deleting President's Account

Phillip Butler
November 4, 2017

Some cheered and others raised concerns when U.S. President Donald Trump's Twitter account, a mouthpiece for the U.S. presidency, mysteriously went dark for a few minutes this week. But later, with no references to error or accident, the company said that an employee deactivated the account on his or her last day on the job.

"It's not surprising that even the brief shutdown of the president's Twitter account has provoked debate", said Jameel Jaffer, executive director of Columbia University's Knight First Amendment Institute, which has filed a federal lawsuit challenging Trump's practice of blocking Twitter users who criticize him or his policies. In an earlier statement, the social network said it was "taking steps 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". Trump says the service allows him to get his message out to his supporters without the filter of the media, but it's also allowed him to circumvent his own staff. But if a scenario like the one Fineman put forth comes to pass, the time Twitter spends trying to work out whether Trump is on a rampage or someone has hacked in to his account for a joke could be catastrophic.

A Twitter representative declined to comment further.

The statement left many question from the tech community and Washington unanswered, including how many people had access to Trump's account and what were the security protocols in dealing with accounts of influential personalities, especially those related to USA national security.

Reuters could not determine how many Twitter employees had the authority to delete accounts or if any had the ability to tamper with them in other ways, such as by sending bogus tweets. "I'm not sure anyone at Twitter can tweet from someone else's account".

A source told BuzzFeed that hundreds of Twitter employees have access to high-profile accounts and have the power to deactivate one.

What basically amounted to a public threat made against a world leader who has been very open about the prospect of aiming nuclear missiles at the United States was not something that Twitter was willing to take down.

Others are using the opportunity to call for an end to Trump's Twitter once and for all, claiming his use of the platform violates its terms of service. That employee has since been hailed in social media as a hero and as a scourge for acting against the president, who said the move reflected the impact his Twitter messages have had.

Free speech advocates have said that it's better to keep Trump on the platform, and it should not be up to private companies to decide whether the president has a voice there.

Other reports by Ligue1talk

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