President Donald Trump’s personal Twitter account was deleted Thursday afternoon — not due to of any rules transgression, but rather an alleged rogue employee.
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 Trump’s account “was inadvertently deactivated due to human error” before later placing the blame on an employee spending their last day with the company.
The incident, coming after months of criticism on how Twitter handles the president’s account, led to speculation the account may have been suspended. 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 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 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 Trump’s tweet had caused an uproar but said it was allowed to stay because of its “newsworthiness.”
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.
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.