Early this month, a former Twitter employee deactivated President Donald Trump’s Twitter account on his last day of working with Twitter.
At first, Twitter explained that the 11-minute deactivation had been an error, but later revealed it was a third-party contract employee who worked for Twitter’s Trust and Safety operations team in the San Francisco area. He had been on the job for about four months and on his last day of work, he deactivated Trump’s account.
The identity of the contractor has now been revealed. Bahtiyar Duysak revealed himself to TechCrunch. He spoke to TechCrunch in a town in Germany and explained how things happened.
Duysak describes the event as a mistake. He said he had a wild time in America and was tired sometimes so he made a mistake. He went on to apologize and said he is not concerned about what happens next if there is further investigation of the incident. He hasn’t broken any laws.
He said: “I didn’t hack anyone. I didn’t do anything that I was not authorized to do. I didn’t go to any site I was not supposed to go to. I didn’t break any rules.”
Duysak, a twenty-something with Turkish roots who was born and raised in Germany, was working as a contractor for a fixed term for the last part of his stay in the U.S. under a work and study visa. In addition to his role at Twitter with Pro Unlimited, other assignments had included stints in monetization at Google and YouTube via another contractor, Vaco.
At Twitter, Duysak had been assigned to customer support as part of the Trust and Safety division. This team receives alerts when users report bad behavior, including offensive or illegal tweets, harassment, someone impersonating another person and so on. The team performs triage on complaints to determine what further steps, if any, should be taken.
His said his last day at Twitter was mostly uneventful. There were many goodbyes, and he worked up until the last hour before his computer access was to be shut off. Near the end of his shift, an alert came in. The alert was from someone reporting Trump’s Twitter account. As a final, throwaway gesture, he put the wheels in motion to deactivate it. Then he closed his computer and left the building.
He said he never thought the account would actually get deactivated because Trump’s account was essentially protected from being deactivated over Terms of Service violations. In June, Twitter had explained why Trump’s account could not be deactivated. They said some tweets that seemingly violate its terms of service are nevertheless “newsworthy” and therefore in the public interest to keep up. So, though Duysak set the wheels in motion to deactivate Trump’s account, he never thought it would actually happen.
However, several hours later, the panic began. Duysak tells us that it started when he was approached by a woman whom he didn’t know very well. According to Duysak, the woman said that she had been contacted by someone asking about Duysak in connection with Trump’s Twitter account. After a moment of disbelief, he said he then looked at the news and realized what had happened.
Although Duysak was hailed as a hero by many people, he says he hasn’t felt like one at all. He’s been pursued by the media, which have been aggressive in contacting family and friends. Duysak’s legal representative confirmed that the FBI is not investigating him at the moment, although Twitter has apparently attempted to get more information from him. Duysak has chosen not to reply.
He has left the United States and is now back in his home country, Germany, where he returned at the end of his visa period. He said he’s coming out now to speak to the media because he wants to get it over with and live a normal life.
He said: “I want to continue an ordinary life. I don’t want to flee from the media. I want to speak to my neighbors and friends. I had to delete hundreds of friends, so many pictures, because reporters are stalking me. I just want to continue an ordinary life.”
He said the pursuit has been relentless: journalists have contacted the university where he studied, his places of employment, his friends, and his family. His family has shut down various social accounts to avoid the contact.
“I didn’t do any crime or anything evil, but I feel like Pablo Escobar,” he said, “and slowly it’s getting really annoying.”
These days, Duysak said he isn’t likely to take another tech job anytime soon. More likely, he’ll be looking into finance or other related field. “But I love Twitter,” he said, “and I love America.”