- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 4, 2017

President Trump’s personal Twitter account was briefly suspended this week by a rogue contractor and not a company employee as previously claimed, according to a new report.

Sources familiar with the matter said that a third-party contractor temporarily deleted the president’s Twitter account this week, The New York Times reported Friday, calling into the question the company’s initial explanation and raising concerns surrounding the security practices and internal policies in place to protect high-profile accounts susceptible to abuse.

Mr. Trump’s account, @realDonaldTrump, disappeared for about 11 minutes Thursday after being “inadvertently deactivated due to human error by a Twitter employee,” according to Twitter’s initial explanation.

“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,” Twitter said at the time.

Current and former Twitter employees briefed on the situation told The Times a different story, however. An investigation into the incident has since determined that Mr. Trump’s account was suspended by a contractor during their last day working for Twitter, the sources said.

“Many of these people work side by side with full-time employees, but they are often paid significantly less, are identified with different color employee badges and are not afforded the same perks and amenities that full-time workers have,” according to the report. “Many complain of being treated like second-class citizens.”

Twitter previously discussed implementing additional security measures designed to limit access to “Very Important Tweeters,” or “VITs,” but ultimately decided otherwise, the sources said.

Twitter referred to its public statements when reached for comment, the Times reported.

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

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

Mr. Trump joined Twitter in March 2009 and currently has about 41.9 million followers. The platform’s most popular user, pop singer Katy Petty, has about 106 million followers.

Mr. Trump’s brief suspension happened on the heels of Twitter’s acting general counsel, Sean Edgett, testifying on Capitol Hill twice this week before congressional lawmakers probing Russia’s use of social media during the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Along with representatives from fellow tech titans Facebook and Google, Mr. Edgett faced grilling from investigators alarmed that Russian operatives used their platforms while conducting a multifaceted influence campaign targeting last year’s White House race and particularly Mr. Trump’s former rival, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

Russia has denied meddling in Mr. Trump’s election.

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