The Twittersphere has been left stunned after it appeared that the US president, Donald Trump, had quit the micro-blogging site.
Arguably Twitter’s most famous user, Mr Trump has entertained and astonished with his regular tweets, often sent late at night. He has frequently used the platform to update the world on policy plans and personnel changes.
However, for reasons that remain unclear, he last night announced that he would no longer be communicating in 280 characters or less.
In a cryptic message, he told his nearly 50 million followers: “Twitter was fun once – BIG fun. But I’m getting tired of the TROLLS (many of whom are douchebags). Got a big job to do putting America first. God bless Twitter & the almighty USA. Peace OUT!”
Initially, some social media watchers believed that Mr Trump’s account had been hacked – possibly raising the spectre of Russian state involvement.
Seventeen minutes after the first message, however, came a second:
“SAD? Sure, sadder than Sad. Bluer than a blue tick. Still, this is it folks. GOD BLESS YOU ALL.”
There have been no further messages from the presidential account, and sources close to the White House indicated that the president would indeed not be returning to social media, although one well-placed associate suggested that Mr Trump had become increasingly interested in the possibilities of Instagram.
“There’s no doubt the president is a busy man,” said the source. “He’s become somewhat disillusioned with Twitter but that doesn’t mean he’ll stop other channels of direct communication with the American people.”
Others speculated that the decision was an unforeseen consequence of the nomination of the presidential physician, admiral Ronny Jackson, as the new secretary of veterans affairs.
“It’s well known that the president has micro-fingers,” said a White House official speaking on condition of anonymity.
“Dr Jackson’s daily hand massages kept the presidential pinkies supple enough to reach the furthermost corners of the keyboard on Trump’s phone. Now Ronny’s taken up a new role, there is nobody with the skill required to keep those tiny digits moving.”
Many supporters of the president were left shocked by Mr Trump’s departure.
“I can’t believe it,” said John from Pittsburgh. “His tweets were the only reason I voted for him.”
Others were more upbeat. Judy, who said she had woken in her Miami condo aware of a “sudden surge of something big”, suggested the timing was not coincidental.
“Just over 2,000 years ago to the day, Jesus Christ rose from the dead. Trump’s not leaving Twitter, he’s coming for his people – just like we always prayed he would.”
World leaders, many of whom appeared unaware of the development as they enjoyed the long Easter weekend, were largely muted in their response.
President Vladimir Putin tweeted commiserations from his personal @vladthebad account, saying: “to suggest this is a Russian kompromat plot is absurd”.
@kimjongunrocket was more forthright:
“HahahahahhahhahahhabHhahahahahahahhahah. S*** off you silly dotard!!!!! Hahahahhahahah. Where’s my barber?”
The prevailing mood in America, among those still awake, was one of shock and surprise.
Mr T, the actor famous for his role as Sergeant BA Baracus in the cult TV show, The A-Team, summed up the general sense of disappointment when he tweeted:
“I pity the fool that gives up on Twitter. I do.”
It remains to be seen whether the president will change his mind when he wakes up.
He has so far not returned The Independent’s direct messages on Twitter.
Update, 12pm 1 April: As Donald Trump may have popularised the expression “fake news”, this piece was exactly that – in the finest traditions of April Fool’s Day. Did you spot any others? Find them all in our roundup here.