In the midst of the most chaotic week of Donald Trump’s life, with a number of his advisers and associates being arrested in his Trump-Russia scandal, he’s been consistently using his Twitter account to try to create even more chaos. In a development on Thursday evening that sent shockwaves across the political and technological landscape, Trump’s entire Twitter account was deleted, and was replaced with a message saying that no such account existed. Just as the controversy was reaching a fever pitch, the account suddenly reappeared.
As of yet, neither Donald Trump nor Twitter has provided any official explanation as to what happened. There are a few possible scenarios. The first would be that Trump’s account was compromised and was taken offline as a security measure. The fact that this only affected Trump’s account suggests that it would have been hackers specifically targeting him, as opposed to a random technical glitch. The second is that Twitter suspended Trump for violation of terms of service, and then quickly reversed its decision. The third would be that Donald Trump purposely deleted or deactivated his Twitter account, and then quickly changed his mind.
Although Trump has repeatedly violated Twitter’s terms of service in various ways, he’s never been suspended. None of the tweets he’s posted in the past day or two appear to be in violation of the terms of service, so a suspension seems unlikely – particularly as there are no known cases of a Twitter suspension decision having ever been reversed within minutes. It’s certainly plausible that someone hacked Trump’s account, and Twitter took it offline for that reason.
Although it’s not clear that Donald Trump has the technical skills to delete his own Twitter account, his increasingly erratic behavior means that anything is possible. Thus far this week multiple Trump advisers have been arrested, and one was revealed to have pleaded guilty and cut a deal against him.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report