Act by ex-Twitter contractor highlights potential flaws in social media platforms
For 11 minutes on Nov 2, the Twitter account of US President Donald Trump was deactivated.
And now, weeks later, the identity of the "rogue employee" who made it happen has surfaced.
Mr Bahtiyar Duysak is a 28-year-old former contractor for Twitter's trust and safety team.
In an extensive interview with TechCrunch, he said his role at the social media platform's headquarters involved taking action on alerts when users report bad behaviour, such as offensive tweets and impersonation.
He was to determine if a tweet contravened Twitter's terms and conditions, and escalate it if necessary.
The fateful events happened on his last day at work. Someone had reported Mr Trump's account and he escalated it, and shut his computer down and left.
He insisted that there was no malice involved: "I didn't hack anyone. I didn't do anything that I was not authorised to do," he told TechCrunch. "I didn't go to any site I was not supposed to go to. I didn't break any rules.
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"I'm not a rogue person," he said. "I did a mistake, I confess."
Mr Duysak's admission came after weeks of deliberation.
Various media outlets had been hounding him for interviews to try to get a sense of his political leanings. He had to lay low, delete hundreds of friends from his social media accounts, in a bid to live an ordinary life. "I didn't do any crime or anything evil, but I feel like Pablo Escobar," he said, "and slowly, it's getting really annoying."
But not everyone was baying for blood. In fact, he has been celebrated as a hero in some circles, particularly among anti-Trump supporters.
He has received marriage proposals and there is a semi-serious campaign to get him nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.
But the fact that a single contract worker was able to take down a prominent account with just a click of a button underscores potential flaws in social media platforms.
Twitter has already said a full internal review is in the works, and safeguards are being rolled out to prevent incidents like this from happening again.
It has also come under fire for keeping up a series of graphic anti-Muslim videos retweeted by Mr Trump last week.
At first, it said the videos were not taken down as they were "newsworthy for public interest".
It later changed its tune, saying they were left up based on its updated media policy. Essentially, this means the videos were permitted because they were allowed to be posted.
Detractors have pointed out that this shows that Twitter itself does not seem to understand its own policies, or, at the very least, is not able to articulate them coherently.
There is no doubt Twitter is a useful tool in the social media space, particularly when it comes to breaking news.
In October, the 11-year-old platform announced that it could turn its first-ever profit in the next quarter on the back of new users and video advertising.
Hopefully, it will be able to get its act together by then.
CHRIS PRATT (WITHOUT THE BLUE TICK) ISN'T YOUR FRIEND
Guardians Of The Galaxy star Chris Pratt had strong words for an imposter who had been hitting on his female fans.
The 38-year-old actor took to Instagram to rant about the "pervy dude" trying to get mobile numbers of his fans by pretending to be him.
"I'm not joking," the star said. "I find this behaviour reprehensible."
Pratt said he was actively trying to get the account shut down and asked fans to look for the blue checkmark for verified accounts.
"If there's no checkmark by my name, that person is an imposter. I'm sorry," he added.
This is not the first time he has been impersonated, as he has received feedback from fans that this was not an isolated incident.
"It terrifies me to think someone could be hurt, their feelings or much worse, by this potential predator," he said.
NO, PARIS HILTON DID NOT INVENT THE SELFIE
Paris Hilton, the socialite and hotel heiress, took to Twitter to post a bold claim - that she and pop star Britney Spears "invented" the selfie 11 years ago in 2006.
Hilton was derided for her delusion almost immediately, as users rushed to debunk her self-serving boast.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, a selfie is defined as a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically with a smartphone or webcam, and shared via social media.
Twitter users started sharing photos of people who had taken selfies before 2006.
They included Beatles members George Harrison and Paul McCartney, science buff Bill Nye and even fashion icon Marilyn Monroe.
Many users marvelled at Hilton's loose grip on reality, but that did not seem to deter the 36-year-old, whose fame seems to be on the wane.
Ever the savvy businesswoman, she took the sudden surge of interest in her social media accounts to promote her latest fragrance and music album.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 03, 2017, with the headline 'The man who took down Trump's Twitter account'. Print Edition | Subscribe
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