The Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) is still doing damage control nearly a week after its Twitter account seemed to vanish into thin air. The agency has blamed a “technical glitch” for it’s account going empty, saying that it was an error on the backend and the result of a simple mistake.
But the fact that the agency has had to release two official statements about the outage, denying allegations of hackers or rogue employees, speaks to the amount of distrust between the American people and ICE as a government agency.
ICE’s Twitter account vanished due to a “technical glitch” but people are full of speculation.
The Twitter account belonging to Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) vanished and reappeared last week and many on the Internet are eager to find out why. The disappearance of the account for the federal agency, which has been the subject of polarizing political debates, got lots of response really fast.
The agency released a statement blaming a change to the date of the agency’s creation. Twitter’s terms of service prohibit users under 13, and a Twitter spokesperson cited the policy in explaining the disappearance to NBC.
The bureau was created in 2003, so why ICE’s birthdate on Twitter changed is unclear, as is who altered it.
The outage didn’t last long – merely a few hours – and ICE was quick to deny any nefarious cause.
Shortly after 4 p.m., the owners of the @ICEgov account announced that the account was reinstated after Twitter assisted the organization in correcting a technical issue.
“No hackers, no rogue employees. We had a technical glitch and we appreciate the Twitter team’s help in bringing us back online. Stay tuned here for more great news about the work that the men and women of ICE do every day to protect the homeland.”
A Twitter spokesperson told the American Military News that the issue was regarding a date change within the Twitter settings.
“Twitter requires people using the service to be 13 years of age or older. If an account’s birthdate is changed to a day/month/year prior to that and our systems identify content posted by the account before they were 13 years old, they will be locked out of the account. The account has been reinstated.”
But not everyone was taking the explanation at face value.
Several Twitter users speculated why the account had been removed. Some linked the account suspension to the pending change of power in the White House from President Donald Trump to President-elect Joe Biden. With many guessing that the outage came as the agency was attempting to delete it’s cache of direct messages and files. Some called for Twitter to subpoena the account’s direct messages.
Meanwhile, plenty on Twitter celebrated even the temporary suspension of the agency’s account.
As soon as word started to spread that ICE was no longer on Twitter, many took to celebrate the news.
Others hoped it was a sign the entire agency – along with its Twitter – will soon be abolished.
Thanks to a growing movement from migrant advocates and activists, many have been calling for ICE to be abolished. The agency is another arm of the U.S. government that pays little attention to human rights of the very people it targets.
Back in August, lawyers alleged that Muslim detainees in Miami’s Krome Service Processing Center were being served pork, despite religious restrictions on their diets.
Additionally, a recent whistleblower complaint from a nurse in Georgia alleged that detainees in one facility were refused COVID-19 testing, and that there were an alarming number of hysterectomies performed on women in ICE custody. In September, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez responded to news of the complaint on Twitter, writing, “The fact of the matter is the United States has engaged in a program of mass human rights violations targeting immigrants … Our country must atone for it all.”
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