Lessons of the Trump Twitter blackout

Posted by on Nov 06, 2017 at 8:08 am

Where were you when President Trump’s Twitter account mysteriously disappeared?

For 11 long minutes on Thursday, the Tweeter of the Free World went dark. Twitter eventually blamed “human error” for the mishap after the account was restored, and it turned out to be the work of a rogue employee on his or her last day.

There was merriment with a hint of existentialism during those 11 minutes as Twitter users wondered what it all meant. Had we dreamed the account? Was Mike Pence now president — at least on Twitter? Had Ivanka or John Kelly managed to wrestle away the president’s phone? Were we, actually, free?

Some compared it to Tim Robbins’ character furtively playing an opera record over the prison PA system in “The Shawshank Redemption.” Others joked that the Twitter employee should be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.

It was a dazzling 11 minutes exploring the void. And then, the Earth was set back upon its axis. “My Twitter account was taken down for 11 minutes by a rogue employee. I guess the word must finally be getting out-and having an impact,” Trump tweeted Friday.

The word is out.

On the more serious side, the episode exposed how easily our president’s Twitter account could be compromised and the danger of this vulnerability since he chooses to communicate so often through the site. As Politico editor Blake Hounshell asked on Twitter, “What if this person had tweeted about a fictional nuclear strike on North Korea?” Or worse, what if this person had offered a truce with Hillary Clinton?

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