President Trump's personal Twitter account disappeared from the site briefly Thursday afternoon, raising speculation that it might have been suspended, but the social network said that wasn't the case.
Visitors to @realDonaldTrump expecting to find his latest missives around 3:55 p.m. PT were instead greeted with a message that the page didn't exist. However, the account's nonexistence didn't last long, and the page returned with its usual appearance.
Twitter and the White House didn't immediately respond to a request for comment, but at 5:05 p.m. PT, Twitter's @TwitterGov account tweeted to say Mr. Trump's account "was inadvertently deactivated due to human error" and was offline for 11 minutes.
"We are continuing to investigate and are taking steps to prevent this from happening again," the company said.
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.— Twitter Government (@TwitterGov) November 3, 2017
Later, it tweeted that it was the employee's last day on the job.
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— Twitter Government (@TwitterGov) November 3, 2017
The incident comes after months of criticism directed at Twitter for how it handles the president's account. Many have wondered why some of his tweets aren't being deleted by the social media platform, despite their apparent violation of its rules.
Twitter's rules forbid using the service to make violent threats, either direct or indirect. Accounts violating that rule may be subject to a temporary or permanent suspension, Twitter warns. Suspensions aren't uncommon on the site.
Roger Stone, a longtime associate of Mr. Trump, was suspended by Twitter on Saturday after lashing out at CNN anchor Don Lemon. In January, pharmaceutical executive Martin Shkreli was given a Twitter timeout for harassing a freelance journalist.
The focus on Mr. Trump's status on the site intensified during a war of words with North Korean leadership last month, during which he tweeted that if the country's foreign minister "echoes thoughts of Little Rocket Man, they won't be around much longer!" The tweet was interpreted by many, including the foreign minister, as a threat of military action against the country.
Twitter acknowledged that Mr. Trump's tweet had caused an uproar but said it was allowed to stay because of its "newsworthiness."
Mr. Trump has credited the social platform for helping him win the White House, but some close to the president reportedly worry that his prolific and often controversial tweeting could have dire consequences. The New York Times reported earlier this year that members of his staff are desperate for him to slow down with the tweets.
Mr. Trump has other accounts he can tweet from besides his personal account, which has 41 million followers. He can also send tweets from official accounts such as @POTUS, which has nearly 21 million followers, or @WhiteHouse, which counts nearly 16 million followers.