This is the way the world ends: not with a bang but a deleted Twitter account.
At least, so it appeared for 11 minutes Thursday evening, when visitors to President Trump’s personal account, @realDonaldTrump, were informed that there was no such thing.
The error message on some devices was even more dire: “@realDonaldTrump does not exist.”
Amid a presidency that has seemed, at times, to be conducted primarily in 140-character pieces, this was a seismic event — and what was left of Twitter erupted. It was a raucous, modern-day town-square gathering of the sort not seen since … well, since five months ago, when Mr. Trump coined a new word in the middle of the night.
It was just before 7 p.m. Thursday, and Twitter was in an uproar. Time stopped. The sun rose in the west and set in the east. What, the watchers wondered, would happen now?
And then, just as suddenly, the account was back, and those watching found themselves unscathed — though some could not quite shake a sense of dread.
The White House directed inquiries to Twitter, which blamed “human error” by an employee.
“Earlier today @realdonaldtrump’s account was inadvertently deactivated due to human error by a Twitter employee,” the company wrote in a statement. “The account was down for 11 minutes, and has since been restored. We are continuing to investigate and are taking steps to prevent this from happening again.”
Mr. Trump himself got back to business as if nothing had happened, tweeting at 8:05 p.m.: “Great Tax Cut rollout today. The lobbyists are storming Capital Hill, but the Republicans will hold strong and do what is right for America!”
And so, back in the offices and homes of the nation, the people of Twitter could only speculate and reflect.
For better or for worse, the world seemed predictable again, and one user made his prediction bold.
“Man,” Alex Zalben wrote, “in like nine months there’s gonna be a ton of Trump Twitter blackout babies.”