WASHINGTON — On Thursday night around 7 p.m. ET, the unthinkable happened: The Tweeter-in-Chief disappeared from his beloved platform.
President Trump’s verified @realDonaldTrump account briefly went offline. Anyone who navigated to his feed was given a generic blue landing page that read, “Sorry, that page doesn’t exist!”
And in a stunning plot twist, the world later learned it wasn’t a glitch — but the work of a Twitter employee on his or her last day at work.
Initially, one of the social media site’s verified accounts said Trump’s feed was “inadvertently deactivated due to a human error.” But a couple of hours later, Twitter announced further investigation revealed “a Twitter customer support employee … did this on the employee’s last day.”
The company said it’s conducting “a full internal review” of the incident.
Trump’s account was restored within minutes — 11 to be exact.
But Twitter lit up with speculation, conspiracy theories, and plenty of sarcastic jokes about Trump’s brief exodus.
“In that moment, ‘Sorry, that page doesn’t exist!’ [Trump] truly became President,” one user wrote.
“That was like .003 Scaramuccis,” wrote another user, referring to the president’s short-lived communications director.
“If Trump’s Twitter is down, does this technically mean he’s no longer POTUS? I mean, it’s the only part of the job he pays attention to,” another said.
Some users, like New Republic editor Jeet Heer, mocked the furor. One tweet from Heer read, “Wait, Trump’s twitter account has disappeared. Is this how we do coups now?”
Others speculated about whether Twitter barred Trump from the platform.
News that it was a Twitter worker behind the @realDonaldTrump shutout ignited a new flurry of tweets.
Perhaps one of the most defining elements of his presidency, Trump’s Twitter use consistently makes headlines.
Trump often uses the platform to levy attacks publicly. Those on the receiving end of his tweets include Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill who he views as roadblocks to his policy initiatives. The press has often been the subject of vitriolic tweets. And NFL players who kneel during the anthem to protest racial injustice have been targets of @realDonaldTrump.
Related: Trump’s tweets lead to bad news coverage, study shows
Perhaps most notably, however, Trump has also used Twitter to lash out at North Korea, the rogue Asian nation that claims to have a newly bolstered nuclear arsenal.
“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!” Trump tweeted in September, using his choice nickname for North Korea leader Kim Jong Un.
The North Korean government claimed the tweet constituted a declaration of war.
Many called for Trump to be booted from the platform, arguing his tweets — which often seem to be typed out on a whim — could plunge America into a nuclear war.
But Twitter declined to bar Trump’s account, saying it must weigh the newsworthiness of Trump’s tweets with its violent rhetoric.
Twitter has had issues with high-profile accounts disappearing before. The company’s CEO, Jack Dorsey, had his account suspended accidentally in November 2016. Once it came back online, Dorsey tweeted that the suspension was the result of “an internal mistake.”
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