In the last 24 hours alone, President Donald Trump has used his infamous Twitter account to retweet British fascists’ anti-Islam videos and tag the wrong Theresa May in an angry rant. This is nothing new. The US president is one of the site’s worst s**tposters – made infinitely worse by the fact that via virtue of his immense personal power, Trump’s very bad tweets translate into almost immediate real-life consequences for everyone but him.
Image: Screengrab via Gizmodo
Undoubtedly one of the high points of Trump’s tenure on the site was in early November, when his account was mysteriously nuked off the site after what Twitter described as a “human error by a Twitter employee”. Now, per TechCrunch, we know who that legendary employee was.
It’s Bahtiyar Duysak, “a twenty-something with Turkish roots who was born and raised in Germany”, and who was nearing the end of his fixed work and study visa in the US. Duysak was working as a contractor for the Twitter Trust and Safety division’s customer support team, which responds to reports of rule-breaking behaviour on the site. According to his side of the story, ruling Trump’s account in violation of the Twitter terms of service was the last thing he ever did at the company:
Someone reported Trump’s account on Duysak’s last day; as a final, throwaway gesture, he put the wheels in motion to deactivate it. Then he closed his computer and left the building.
Duysak told TechCrunch the incident was a “mistake” and the result of a number of low-probability events happening at the same time. He said he never believed it was possible the president’s Twitter could be deactivated, per an internal policy ruling Trump essentially above the rules due to his inherent newsworthiness.
He’s not concerned with legal consequences, telling TechCrunch, “I didn’t hack anyone. I didn’t do anything that I was not authorised to do. I didn’t go to any site I was not supposed to go to. I didn’t break any rules.”
According to TechCrunch, Duysak chose to come forward for a number of reasons; his Turkish roots could be unnecessarily conflated with Trump’s “previous negative statements on immigration and people from predominantly Muslim countries”. He added he would like his life to return somewhat to normal and that he, friends and family have been hounded by reporters for weeks.
BuzzFeed News separately reported that according to a former senior Twitter employee, “a lot” of staffers had access to administrative functions that would allow them to take accounts offline that it only takes “one click” in the site’s internal dashboard. The same ex-staffer said Twitter had neglected to implement additional controls to prevent the deletion of high-profile accounts.
Unfortunately, Twitter has insisted it has since “implemented safeguards to prevent this from happening again”, meaning Duysak may be the only person who ever gets the chance to ban Trump from the site again. It was probably worth it, though maybe it would have been best to wait until we were on the verge of a ragepost-induced nuclear war or something.
Update: We have implemented safeguards to prevent this from happening again. We won’t be able to share all details about our internal investigation or updates to our security measures, but we take this seriously and our teams are on it. https://t.co/8EfEzHvB7p
— Twitter Government (@TwitterGov) November 3, 2017