Since Trump threw his hat into the ring as a Presidential contender, he's used Twitter to insult opponents, rally supporters, retweet controversial content, and generally stir up fury. Then a few weeks ago it all fell silent. Visitors to Trump's account were either relieved or horrified to discover the President's account had been deactivated.
Then eleven minutes later it was all over and Trump was handed back his bullhorn by Twitter, who blamed a rogue contractor on his last day of work for the incident. The internet responded with cheers (and offers of marriage) for the unnamed saboteur.
how do i tell my parents im marrying the twitter employee?-- Sarah Hagi (@geekylonglegs) November 3, 2017
Reporters meanwhile heard Twitter's explanation as the starting gun in a race to hunt down this mysterious individual who had managed to do the seemingly impossible - muzzle Trump, if only briefly. TechCrunch today won that race, tracking down former Twitter contractor Bahtiyar Duysak, a German citizen of Turkish descent who has returned home since the incident.
A big misunderstanding
Speaking to TechCrunch, Duysak explains that he was motivated to come forward out of a desire to end relentless questions from the media and claims that the whole thing was basically a misunderstanding. Duysak worked in customer support in Twitter's Trust and Safety division. It was his job to assess complaints of problematic content on the platform and decide what, if any, further action should be taken.
On his last day, someone flagged up Trump's account. "As a final, throwaway gesture, [Duysak] put the wheels in motion to deactivate it. Then he closed his computer and left the building," reports TechCrunch. But Duysak insists he didn't actually think his request would go through, assuming that the higher ups would overrule his request due to the newsworthiness of Trump's account.
"Duysak describes the event as a 'mistake,'" TechCrunch says, and "he never thought the account would actually get deactivated." Rather than a daring protestor, Duysak presents himself as someone who was simply doing his job.
"I didn't hack anyone. I didn't do anything that I was not authorized to do," he insists. "I didn't go to any site I was not supposed to go to. I didn't break any rules."
An improbable tale?
That's how he's spinning it anyway. But as Business Insider notes, the revelation of Duysak's identity and motivations raise as many questions as they answer.
"While Duysak has come forward, his account does not fully explain the troubling incident. It's not really clear, for instance, why Duysak triggered the process to deactivate Trump's account if he didn't believe it would actually do anything," writes the site's Julie Bort.
"It's all about a number of coincidences, with very, very little probabilities that randomly occurred on my last day," Duysak says. Some might see that many long shot coincidences as fishy and wonder if perhaps he's not being 100 percent honest about his motivations. We'll probably never know for sure.
What can be said with certainty is Twitter has faced a barrage of questions about its security and procedures following the incident. They're also being cagey about what changes they've made in response.
"We have implemented safeguards to prevent this from happening again," the company tweeted. "We won't be able to share all details about our internal investigation or updates to our security measures, but we take this seriously and our teams are on it."