“I didn’t hack anyone. I didn’t do anything that I was not authorized to do."
A great peace descended on the internet for 11 whole minutes on Nov. 2 this year, when the US president’s fiercely busy @realDonaldTrump account was suddenly deactivated. Speculation raged about whether Trump had been suspended for violating Twitter’s terms of service—for example, with his threatening tweets towards North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, or one of the other divisive posts he had released in the past.
Twitter quickly restored Trump’s account, posting that it had been taken down by “a Twitter customer support employee who did this on the employee’s last day. We are conducting a full internal review.” Trump labeled him a “rogue employee.”
The mystery person was widely feted as a hero, who’d taken subversive action to quiet the president—and the media started digging furiously to find out his identity.
TechCrunch tracked down the former contractor, Bahtiyar Duysak and published an interview with him about what happened on his last day at Twitter. And contrary to what many assumed, he insists his actions were an innocent mistake.
The 28-year-old of Turkish heritage was born and grew up in Germany. He was working as a contractor in the US on a work-and-study visa, and one of his jobs through contracting company Pro Unlimited was on the customer support team in Twitter’s Trust and Safety division, which processes complaints.
Duysak says he received a report about Trump’s account on his last day, started the procedure to deactivate it, then his shift ended and he left. “I didn’t hack anyone. I didn’t do anything that I was not authorized to do,” he told TechCrunch back home in Germany. “I didn’t go to any site I was not supposed to go to. I didn’t break any rules.”
Duysak insists it was a mistake, telling CNNTech, “It’s not like I was looking for something or planning to do it. It was in front of me, and I didn’t do a good job, and I didn’t double-check things.” He said he didn’t realize the full impact of what he’d done until the media frenzy began, and then people started hassling his employers, family, and friends.
He said he’s not a “rogue person” and now just wants to put the incident behind him and move on. “I don’t want to flee from the media,” he told TechCrunch. “I had to delete hundreds of friends [and] so many pictures, because reporters are stalking me. I just want to continue an ordinary life.”