A Twitter customer support worker who was on his or her last day on the job deactivated U.S. President Donald Trump's account for a few minutes Thursday evening, the social media company reported.
Shortly before 7 p.m. ET Thursday, social media reports surfaced that the president's personal account, @RealDonaldTrump, was unavailable, providing the error message that the user "does not exist." The account was restored by 7:03 p.m.
Twitter took responsibility for the outage. In a tweeted statement, the company said Trump's account was "inadvertently deactivated due to human error" by one of its employees. The account was unreachable for 11 minutes.
Twitter later said the deactivation "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.
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— @TwitterGov
41 million followers
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. He has 41.7 million followers on Twitter.
"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.
Twitter chief executive Jack Dorsey's account was briefly suspended as a result of what he said was an internal mistake in a similar incident last November.
The deletion comes at a moment when technology companies, including Twitter, face sharp attack from U.S. lawmakers for failing to stem the spread of Russian propaganda and misinformation on their platforms.
Twitter, in particular, has long faced criticism for not doing enough to police its platform and respond to complaints of abuse.
The temporary deletion of the Trump account sparked a flood of criticism on Twitter itself.
Reuters could not determine how many Twitter employees had the authority to delete accounts or tamper with them in in other ways, such as by sending counterfeit Tweets.
Twitter declined to provide further details.