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A German-born former Twitter contractor has come forward as the person who deactivated President Donald Trump’s Twitter account for 11 minutes on Nov. 2.
Bahtiyar Duysak, who was working for Twitter earlier this year through the firm Pro Unlimited while on a work and study visa, has told TechCrunch that he believes he was the person who caused Trump’s account to go offline.
According to Duysak’s story, part of which TechCrunch filmed and released in a video on YouTube, the incident took place on his last day of work for Twitter’s trust and safety division. Someone had flagged Trump’s account as violating Twitter’s policies and he set the process in motion without believing that Twitter would actually let the account get deactivated. He then left the office.
“In my opinion, it was definitely a mistake,” Duysak says in the video, dressed in a sweater with the image of the American flag. “If I’m involved in this, I really apologize if I hurt anyone. I didn’t do anything on purpose. I had a wild time in America. I was tired sometimes. And everyone can do mistakes. It might be that I did a mistake.”
Duysak, who has since returned to Germany, tells TechCrunch that he has come forward with his identity because “I just want to continue an ordinary life. I don’t want to flee from the media.” He says that reporters have been reaching out to his friends on social media.
Not long after TechCrunch posted its account of Duysak’s role in the Trump deactivation, BuzzFeed published its own story identifying Duysak as the contractor who caused the incident. Twitter did not immediately respond to a request for comment about Duysak.
The Twittersphere was set ablaze on Nov. 2 when it appeared that Trump’s account was no longer active. The social network quickly returned the account to normal activity and released a statement chalking the deactivation up to “human error by a Twitter employee.” After opening an investigation into the incident, Twitter released a new statement saying that it was caused by “a Twitter customer support employee who did this on the employee’s last day.”
Once his account was back up and running, President Trump responded on Twitter, “I guess the word must finally be getting out-and having an impact.”
The deactivation fueled the conversation over Twitter’s role in protecting its high-profile accounts from hacking or other forms of harassment. Many people had previously called for Trump’s account to be deactivated for violating Twitter’s terms of service, but the company has said that some accounts won’t be deactivated if they are deemed “newsworthy.”
For his part, Duysak insists that he didn’t do anything criminal. “I didn’t hack anyone. I didn’t do anything which I was not authorized to do,” he says in the video. “I underline that I didn’t break any rules.”
Watch Duysak’s TechCrunch interview below.
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