A rogue Twitter employee has created social media shockwaves after they deactivated the account of US President Donald Trump on their last day at the company.
For 11 minutes on Friday (AEDT), users who visited the US President’s account were greeted with the message: “Sorry, that page doesn’t exist”.
His account, which has 41.7 million followers, was soon restored but, bizarrely, it appeared to have only a few thousand followers.
Did Donald Trump lose all his followers when the account got deleted? His profile says he only has 5,000 followers. pic.twitter.com/y8IPmyocoR
— Richard James (@richjamesuk) November 3, 2017
Twitter initially attributed the deactivation to human error, but later revealed it had been done intentionally.
“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,” the company said in a statement on Twitter.
A Twitter representative declined to comment further.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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
A former senior Twitter employee told Buzzfeed that many employees at the company had the ability to deactivate an account and Twitter was aware of this but had not changed its protocol.
“It’s one click if you have the rights to access the tool,” the employee said.
“There was discussion that for verified accounts or high profile ones, there’d be special protections but it was never implemented.”
Mr Trump has made extensive use of messages on Twitter to attack his opponents and promote his policies both during the 2016 presidential campaign and since taking office in January.
“Great Tax Cut rollout today. The lobbyists are storming Capital Hill, but the Republicans will hold strong and do what is right for America!” he wrote in his first tweet after Thursday’s outage, making no mention of the outage.
Mr Trump has recently drawn criticism for his social media commentary about the Manhattan terror attack.
He tweeted on Wednesday that Sayfullo Saipov, the man identified as the perpetrator of the attack, “should get the death penalty” despite not yet having been through the judicial system.
Twitter Chief Executive Officer Jack Dorsey’s account was briefly suspended in November in a similar incident as a result of what he said was an internal mistake.
Twitter has come under pressure in the past to delete the president’s account but the social media giant has chosen to keep his account open, saying it was “in the public interest”.
His tweets threatening North Korea came under scrutiny but Twitter responded that his tweets were “newsworthy”.
Many followers posted their own amusing reasons for the 11-minute outage.
Trump's Twitter account is gone. Please say that the FBI stormed the WH, deleted his Twitter account, & then quietly left the building.
— Don't Leave Blank (@WTFisGoingOnDon) November 2, 2017
We’ll all remember where we were during the 10 minutes of peace while Donald Trump’s Twitter account was down.
— Mike Drucker (@MikeDrucker) November 2, 2017
Trump's Twitter account was deactivated for 11 minutes. For 11 minutes America declared its independence from Russia.
— Ed Krassenstein (@EdKrassen) November 3, 2017
New Twitter employee mistakenly deactivates Donald Trump's Twitter account pic.twitter.com/gZ50xWC2bo
— Alex Marr (@Alexmarr98) November 3, 2017