President Donald Trump's relationship with Twitter is certainly unique for a modern politician. While former President Obama used the social media platform to gain more popularity with millennials, Trump uses it to whip his supporters into a frenzy and to attack those he feels are his enemies.
Many opponents wondered why the president hasn't been suspended from the service. They claim that several of his tweets seem to violate the platform's terms of service, which prohibit tweets that contain violent threats, such as his tweets threatening North Korea.
Just heard Foreign Minister of North Korea speak at U.N. If he echoes thoughts of Little Rocket Man, they won't be around much longer!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 24, 2017
Those wishing that President Trump's Twitter account be taken away had their wishes granted late this week, when folks found the "Sorry, that page doesn't exist!" error waiting for them when they tried to visit Trump's Twitter page.
According to the Washington Post, the account disappeared at around 6:45 pm EST on November 2.
That evening, Twitter posted a statement, explaining that the incident was due to "human error":
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
Later, however, the company admitted that the page hadn't been taken down by mistake, but was purposely taken offline.
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
Trump took advantage of this news, taking a moment to bask in his "social impact."
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
In plot twist, the New York Times reports that the employee wasn't a even full-time employee at Twitter, but a contractor.
Privacy experts and others weren't as amused by the incident as the president was, and wondered why an employee, especially one that was only a contractor, had the power to remove a user from Twitter.
Twitter told Buzzfeed that "a lot" of its employees have the power to suspend an account, but that only a few hundred have the power to deactivate one. Verified accounts and the accounts of public figures have no special protections, the company also has said.
These revelation led some to fear that a foreign actor or an agent of chaos might be able to access the president's account and tweet something with a devastating impact.
Seriously, what if this person had tweeted about a fictional nuclear strike on North Korea? https://t.co/TcvpXqXk42— Blake Hounshell (@blakehounshell) November 3, 2017
I'm surprised that people think it is a good thing that a single employee can kick you off the Internet, but I guess I shouldn't be.— Jennifer Granick (@granick) November 3, 2017
Twitter has said that it is conducting a full internal review. Twitter spokesperson Emily Horne also noted, “We won't have anything to share beyond the Tweets we put out last night.”