Twitter’s No. 2 executive Anthony Noto tweeted a joke after a rogue employee took President Trump’s account down for 11 minutes on Thursday.
The joke was funny, but given the implications of the incident, a bit tone deaf.
The instant President Trumps’ Twitter account vanished on Thursday, the people of Twitter noticed and started tweeting about it. It was down for 11 minutes.
Twitter at first said that it was taken down by human error. The company later admitted that the account was actually taken offline by a rogue customer support employee on the person’s last day of work.
Earlier today Twitter said it had implemented “safeguards” to prevent that from happening again. “We take this seriously and our teams are on it,” the company tweeted.
As you might expect, the public reaction to @realDonalTrump’s brief disappearance ranged from applause to outrage. And because this is the internet, there were plenty of jokes, too.
Chuckling at the top
One joke was aimed at Twitter’s COO, Anthony Noto, who rose to fame and fortune at Goldman Sachs before joining as Twitter’s chief of finance a few years ago.
Noto is known for a lot of things: his hard-driving style, his expertise with a financial report and his enormous self-confidence. He’s not known as a brilliant programmer or, really, any kind of programmer.
So when Twitter’s official account tweeted that Trump’s account was taken down by “human error” on Thursday, an Anthony Noto parody account, which calls itself Anthony Doto, joked in a tweet, “That’s the last time I try to code.”
To which the real Noto joked back, “Seriously, who is this person? I am unbelievable at “code.”
This in turn led a barrage of other jokes, like “a rare image of Noto doing code” featuring a cat typing on a keyboard.
But maybe a little tone deaf, and possibly an indication that Twitter may not be taking this as seriously as it says it does. It’s one thing for internet users to make light of the situation, but one would hope that a top executive at the company responsible for such a worrisome incident appreciates the gravity of the matter.
A wake-up call
Like it or not, President Trump’s Twitter account has become a critical part of our government. It’s where the president speaks his unfiltered mind. He’s used it to announce policies affecting people in the military. He’s used to praise people, berate people, even to lash out against the FBI director that he fired.
“The fact that the US president was able to be silenced, even just for 11 minutes, by a Twitter support staffer is not a reassuring sign. It suggests that whatever safeguards Twitter has in place for Trump’s account suffer from some major deficiencies,” writes Business Insider’s Alexei Oreskovic.
As Oreskovic points out, if a rogue customer support employee could up and banish the account, could other employees do things like tweet nuclear threats to North Korea from it?
We assume that the new safeguards Twitter put in place on Friday would prevent that, although the company has said it will not share details about that.
But that’s still a sobering thought.