Sunday, February 25, 2018
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Mr. Trump’s account, @realdonaldtrump disappeared at around 6:45 p.m. in Washington on Thursday, and visitors to the page could only see the message, “Sorry, that page doesn’t exist.”

An employee of the company went rogue on Thursday evening and deactivated Donald Trump’s Twitter account, leading to alarming questions about the integrity of the platform that the U.S President routinely uses to announce policy and even threaten war.

Mr. Trump’s account, @realdonaldtrump disappeared at around 6:45 p.m. in Washington on Thursday, and visitors to the page could only see the message, “Sorry, that page doesn’t exist.”

American social media companies are under increasing scrutiny by lawmakers and law enforcement agencies for their role in allowing content considered hostile to the country’s interests, and clamour is getting louder for fresh regulation. Representatives of Twitter, Google and Facebook faced tough questioning by lawmakers at three Congressional hearings this week on the political campaigns that ran on these platforms with funds and material originating from Russia, during the 2016 presidential election. A bipartisan bill under consideration, if passed, will force digital companies to maintain a public archive of the ads they run, including details about the purchaser.

Coming against this backdrop, the outage of Mr. Trump’s Twitter account prompted posts on the platform about the security implications of unauthorised access to the President’s account. Mr. Trump said the deactivation was a reaction to the “impact” of this Twitter presence. “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,” the President said in a post on Friday morning. He has 41.8 million followers on the platform.

Twitter responded to the incident with two posts. “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,” the company said in the first. In a second post, the company said “this was done by a Twitter customer support employee who did this on the employee’s last day.”

The laudatory support for social media platforms among American commentators and policy elites during the Arab Spring has been replaced with widespread criticism ever since allegations of Russian users interfering in the 2016 presidential campaign surfaced. At the Congressional hearings this week, no company expressed definitive support to the move toward more regulation. All companies were represented by their lawyers, and not their own employees.

Mr. Trump has stated many times that his rise in politics has been entirely due to his Twitter campaign. A frequent user of the platform, he has been particularly active on it in the last few days, advertising the new tax code under consideration, criticizing the investigation and media coverage of the alleged Russian meddling in the U.S election and targeting the Democratic Party.

In September, he had said North Korean leaders “won't be around much longer!” leading to requests to Twitter to suspend his account, as the company policy bars threatening messages. Twitter turned down the demand to delete the account or remove the post, saying the post was “newsworthy.”

Courtesy: The Hindu

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