In a very troubling development, a Twitter employee is alleged to have intentionally deactivated President Trump’s Twitter account on his last day of work. The President’s Twitter account was offline for at least 11 minutes and raised the possibility that his account was being attacked by a foreign adversary.
According to Twitter, this was not an attack by a foreign adversary, but an intentional hack of the President’s account by a Twitter employee which requires the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate. If a Twitter employee intentionally deactivated the President’s account without proper authorization it may be a federal Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) violation. Its possible there may also be other state or federal violations depending on the facts of the case. The perpetrator may be incarcerated for 10 years and fined tens of thousands of dollars for violating the CFAA or other statutes.
What is so troubling is that this incident shows how easy it is for a Twitter employee to not just sabotage the President’s preferred communications platform but anyone’s account for any reason. It raises the question as to what type of access each Twitter employee has to our personal information and the policies, procedures, and controls Twitter and other social media companies have in place to safeguard our digital data and messages.
What if a Twitter employee intentionally Tweeted out a false and misleading message on the President’s behalf that stated the U.S. is currently under attack or has retaliated against another country that has threatened us? That would create a very troubling situation.
The bottom line is that this is no longer an internal Twitter matter, its a situation that needs the DOJ to investigate. If as Twitter alleges a rogue employee intentionally deactivated the President’s Twitter account this should be treated as an intentional hack against the President and the appropriate investigation needs to be performed to determine whether charges need to be filed.