The White House Twitter Troll

The White House Twitter Troll

Updated Oct 24, 2013 at 05:38PM EDT by Brad.

Added Oct 23, 2013 at 05:31PM EDT by amanda b..

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Overview

The White House Twitter Troll is a nickname given to the former U.S. national security official Jofi Joseph[11], who secretly ran an anti-Obama account on Twitter from February 2011 until the exposure of his identity and subsequent termination from his post in October 2013.

Background

The Twitter account @NatSecWork was created in February 2011 by Jofi Joseph, a director in the non-proliferation section of the National Security Staff at the White House, describing himself as someone who “unapologetically says what everyone else only thinks. A keen observer of the foreign policy and national security scene. I’m abrasive and bring the snark.” Although his motives for creating the account are unclear, the account became popular with D.C. journalists as well as political analysts and other government staff members in the following years.





Notable Developments

Account Shutdown

On the morning of October 22nd, 2013, Foreign Policy[1] reported that the Twitter handle @NatSecWonk had disappeared without notice, noting its popularity within the beltway for its sharp criticisms and personal attacks on high ranking government officials and journalists. Although the account has been deleted, an archived compilation of @NatSecWonk’s tweets are available on Favstar.[14] At the time of its removal, @NatSecWonk had 1,129 followers.



Identity Exposed

That evening, Josh Rogin of The Daily Beast[2] posted an exclusive article confirming that the account belonged to Jofi Joseph, who worked as a director on the White House’s National Security staff. The following morning, Rogin appeared on Good Morning America and the Today Show to discuss the account, stating he had assumed it was an insider for awhile due to the amount of sensitive information it had leaked.



News Media Coverage

On October 23rd, dozens of news sites reported on Joseph’s firing including BBC News[3], Yahoo! News[4], The Verge[5], Business Insider[6], Time Swampland[7], Uproxx[8] and The Atlantic[9], who found a source[10] that claimed that Joseph was slated to be promoted to a senior position in the Pentagon before his Twitter account came to light. Also that day, the Washington Post[15] highlighted a few screenshots taken from the deleted account to illustrate the snarkiness in his tweets.

Joseph’s Apology

Approximately one hour after The Daily Beast’s post went live, Politico[12] posted an apology Joseph had sent to them via email. The following day, the email went sent around to several news outlets, including NBC 4 Washington.[13]

“It has been a privilege to serve in this Administration and I deeply regret violating the trust and confidence placed in me. What started out as an intended parody account of DC culture developed over time into a series of inappropriate and mean-spirited comments. I bear complete responsibility for this affair and I sincerely apologize to everyone I insulted.”

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