Twitter says safeguards taken after Trump account outage

Nov 04, 2017, 00:50
Twitter says safeguards taken after Trump account outage

A Twitter employee on their last day with the company was responsible for taking down Donald Trump's account, the social network platform has said, as the president resumed tweeting after the 11-minute outage. This has always been internal policy and we'll soon update our public-facing rules to reflect it. Twitter's rules let the company suspend accounts for violent threats, gender-based attacks and other forms of abuse and harassment.

In the end, the Trump's account was missing for a total of 11 minutes.

Cyber security experts had previously speculated Twitter could have installed special protections on Trump's account, such as the ability to only access it from certain devices.

After initially saying the account was deactivated due to "human error", Twitter clarified that "this was done by a Twitter customer support employee who did this on the employee's last day" and that "an internal review" had begun.

Jackson Shaw, senior director of products for One Identity, said via email that the insufficient protection of Trump's Twitter account points out potentially endemic security oversights at the company. The newspaper added: Twitter customer support cannot, however, access customers' private direct messages, nor can they tweet on behalf of other users.

"Trump's Twitter deactivated for 11 min, and I suddenly thought I'd jumped back into the real timeline where things aren't so damned absurd", tweeted Star Trek actor turned social media personality George Takei. "The tweets speak for themselves", is a common refrain from staff unable or unwilling to explain the president's comments. Later that night, Twitter said the disappearance was the work of one rogue employee.

This incident highlights the need for companies, especially those with a lot of data, to bulk up their monitoring capabilities and keep track of which employees have administrative control and access to information, Connor said.

Beckett says if Twitter wants to be seen as a safe place where the most powerful people in the world can communicate directly with the public, the company needs to step up its game. Twitter has also faced outcry when it temporarily suspended actress Rose McGowan's account while she was speaking out against Harvey Weinstein.

It's not uncommon for technology companies like Twitter to rely on third-party workers for a range of tasks, some of them more sensitive than others.

The person responsible for deactivating the account may also not have been a full-time employee but a contractor, according to a report from The New York Times, which didn't cite its sources.

Trump, who has almost 42 million Twitter followers, responded to the temporary loss of his account by boasting about his wide reach on the service.

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