- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 30, 2017

The former contractor who recently deactivated President Trump’s Twitter account called the event a “mistake” in his first interview since briefly silencing one of the platform’s most influential accounts.

Bahtiyar Duysak said he was responsible for deactivating Mr. Trump’s account earlier this month but that he didn’t actually intend to lock it down, TechCrunch reported.

Mr. Duysak was working as a customer support member of Twitter’s Trust and Safety division, the team responsible for triaging user complaints, when someone reported the president’s account on Nov. 2 near the end of his last day on the job, he told the website in an exclusive interview published Wednesday.

“[A]s a final, throwaway gesture, he put the wheels in motion to deactivate it. Then he closed his computer and left the building,” TechCrunch reported.

The contractor’s actions ultimately deactivated Mr. Trump’s account for about 11 minutes, briefly preventing the president from using his favorite megaphone and prohibiting users from seeing his tweets.

Mr. Duysak described the event as a “mistake” and said he never thought the account would actually get deactivated, TechCrunch reported.

He learned about the consequences within hours, he told TechCrunch, and before long he found himself being hounded by members of the media racing to uncover the identity of the person responsible for briefly silencing the president.

Born and raised in Germany, Mr. Duysak was working in the U.S. for a fixed term before his work-and-study visa expired, TechCruch reported. He left the U.S. amid the media uproar and kept quiet about the incident until being interviewed for the article published Wednesday.

“I want to continue an ordinary life. I don’t want to flee from the media,” he told TechCrunch. “I want to speak to my neighbors and friends. I had to delete hundreds of friends, so many pictures, because reporters are stalking me. I just want to continue an ordinary life.”

Twitter initially blamed the deactivation on “human error,” but the company later concluded that a rogue contractor was responsible.

“We have implemented safeguards to prevent this from happening again,” Twitter said in a statement afterwards.

Twitter declined to confirm the contractor’s identity, TechCrunch reported.

The president launched his personal Twitter account, @realDonaldTrump, in 2009. It boasted about 41.9 million Twitter followers when it was deactivated Nov. 2 and has since amassed nearly another two million.

“My Twitter account was taken down for 11 minutes by a rogue employee,” Mr. Trump tweeted at the time. “I guess the word must finally be getting out — and having an impact.”

Mr. Trump has praised Twitter for letting him communicate without a filter, but his posts have raised concerns on a regular basis, including on Wednesday morning when he retweeted three videos shared by a Britain far-right nationalist.

Earlier this month, meanwhile, Department of Justice attorneys told a federal judge that the government treats Mr. Trump’s tweets as official statements.

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