ICE's Twitter Account Is Operational Again, After Being Temporarily Deactivated

Update: ICE's Twitter account is once again operational. According to a Twitter spokesperson, it appears that a backend issue was responsible for the account going down.

"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," a spokesperson for Twitter said in a statement provided to Newsweek. "The account has been reinstated."

At the time of this update's publication, the @ICEgov account looks to have only a fraction of its previous follower count. According to Twitter, it'll take 24 to 48 hours for the account's full follower count to be restored.

A tweet from the account, sent out on Thursday afternoon, acknowledged the seeming deactivation and blamed it on "a technical glitch"—not on hackers or rogue employees.

Original Story: ICE's Twitter account looks to have been suddenly disabled and wiped clean.

Matt Ford, a staff writer at The New Republic, tweeted on Thursday that the @ICEgov Twitter handle appears to have been shut down. The account's profile is completely blank: no profile photo, no banner photo, no bio, no tweets.

Currently, the page features a simple message from Twitter, which reads, "This account doesn't exist." Previously, the account featured a bio that read, "We focus on preventing terrorism, immigration enforcement and combating transnational crime."

What exactly this means remains unclear at this very moment. Opponents of the controversial agency, though, didn't waste any time drawing attention to the sudden disappearance. Some Twitter users began speculating that @ICEgov was suspended by Twitter itself, and cracking jokes about ICE being abolished from the social media platform.

ICE's official website remains operational, and the bio for the official Twitter account for the ICE Director, Tony H. Pham, still refers users to @ICEgov.

The government agency's full name is U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. According to the organization's website, its mission is to "protect America from the cross-border crime and illegal immigration that threaten national security and public safety."

Critics of ICE often call for the agency to be abolished, and see it as an arm of the U.S. government that pays little mind to the human rights of the people that 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."

As noted by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, ICE's Twitter account previously had more than 459,000 followers and sent out an excess of 15,000 tweets.

Newsweek reached out to ICE for comment and clarification, but did not hear back in time for publication. A representative for Twitter replied to a Newsweek inquiry for comment, and said one is forthcoming.

Updated 11/12/2020, 4:15 p.m. ET: This article has been updated to include a statement from Twitter, and to reflect that ICE's Twitter account has been reactivated. The headline has also been changed to note that the account is once again operational.

ICE sued
Immigration and Customs Enforcement is being sued for failing to turn over medical records. iStock