Rogue employee blamed for deactivating Trump Twitter account

The company said a customer-support employee shut down the account on his last day at work

Rogue employee blamed for deactivating Trump Twitter account

US President Donald J Trump at the White House in Washington, DC, 02-11-2017. Image: Edelman Alex/CNP/ABACA/ABACA/PA Images

Donald Trump's Twitter account was deactivated by a company employee and was down for 11 minutes before it was restored, Twitter has said.

The company blamed a customer-support employee "who did this on the employee's last day."

The internet was seized by a brief spell of panic just before 11pm on Thursday, when the US President's account disappeared suddenly and without explanation.

Mr Trump has 41.7 million followers on Twitter and makes extensive use of it for everything from promoting his policies to attacking his opponents.

While the account was down, a search for @realDonaldTrump returned only a blue background and the line "sorry that page does not exist."

The sight sent those who witnessed it into a frenzy of disbelief.

Many were overjoyed at the disappearance of one of the platform's most powerful and prolific accounts; others furious at the deactivation.

Those seeking an explanation suggested the account had been hacked, or perhaps even suspended by Twitter.

But before long the President's account returned, without fanfare and as mysteriously it had disappeared.

Twitter quickly responded to the incident, tweeting at first that the account had been inadvertently deactivated due to human error and was being investigated.

Its explanation was soon changed, however, with a second tweet announcing the deactivation had been carried out "by a Twitter customer-support employee who did this on the employee's last day."

Many users responded with glee to the news, praising the unknown former employee as a hero.

Others, however, judged the deletion an affront to the principles of free speech, or expressed concern that a customer-service employee was apparently able to delete whole accounts at their whim.

As the rest of the world struggled to come to terms with the brief absence and swift return of his account, however, Mr Trump seamlessly returned to his usual Twitter form.

In the hours following his short departure The President tweeted zealously about a tax cut roll out, alleged violations of campaign finance laws and James Comey's leadership, as well as promoting an interview with Fox News.