For a brief moment, the world's most powerful man lost his social media megaphone.
Twitter admitted that it accidentally deactivated President Donald Trump's personal account thanks to a “human error”. It went back online after an uncertain 11 minutes in which Americans wondered if a fixture of their recent civic life - a steady stream of presidential tweets - was no more.
It was not to be so. The account was swiftly restored, and the social media company said that Mr Trump's @realdonaldtrump account was “inadvertently deactivated” due to human error by a Twitter Inc employee around 7 pm ET (1 am in Chisinau).
“Earlier today @realdonaldtrump's account was inadvertently deactivated due to human error by a Twitter employee,” the company said in a tweet.
“We are continuing to investigate and are taking steps to prevent this from happening again,” it added.
The official @POTUS account - which mostly includes retweets from the @realDonaldTrump account - was unaffected.
The personal account is Mr Trump's main tools for communicating with the American people - for better or worse. He uses it to issue policy announcements - at times catching officials in his administration off guard, as when he unveiled a ban on transgender Americans serving in the military - attack those he perceives as enemies, and confront members of his own administration that displease him.
However, for a time on Thursday evening, all visitors to the account were left with was a "Sorry, that page does not exist!" message - setting off a frenzy of 140-character speculation.
Mr Trump joined the service in March 2009 and has sent more than 36,000 tweets in that time. He now has a following of more than 41 million.
Twitter recently revised its rules for responding to sexual harassment or violence on its platform, reflecting concerns that the social media site has been slow to respond to abuse. It has also rolled out new transparency rules around political advertising, a change that came amid intensifying political pressure as lawmakers dig into how Russian operatives deployed bots and trolls to try and influence the 2016 election.
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