Deleting the president’s Twitter account

Last week, President Trump’s personal Twitter account disappeared. It was restored 11 minutes later and Twitter said it was deleted by a rogue employee on their last day. Depending on your political leanings, this was either the best thing Twitter ever did or a part of the elitist campaign against the President. I happen to think that it’s an enforcement of Twitter’s Terms of Service, but Twitter has repeatedly proved that it doesn’t care what I think.

Of course, an action like this can’t be viewed in isolation. Even if you agree with the deletion of this account, it sets a bad precedent. Yes, I’m using the slippery slope fallacy, but it’s worth considering. We entrust social media networks to fairly handle problems according to the terms of service they lay out. This is probably a silly thing, but we do it anyway. We entrust social media networks with details of our personal lives, often ones we don’t want shared.

As a professional, I find this act to be a total violation of trust. It violates the System Administration Code of Ethics. But it’s also not the dangerous act some have made it out to be. I have seen comments on Twitter and news articles to the effect of “it’s not funny. What if they had tweeted ‘I just launched the nukes’?!” It’s true Trump uses social media in a way that no past president has and that a fraudulent post could have a tremendous impact. But there’s also nothing to suggest that just because a rogue employee can remove an account that they can also impersonate it.

I’m sure at some level it is possible to somehow insert a fraudulent post. But not only does policy prevent it, but it’s likely very technically difficult to do undetected as well. Frankly, I’m not that concerned about it. What I am worried about is the effects of vigilante ToS enforcement in a political sphere that seems ready to explode.

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