Nobody puts Smokey in the Corner: Government Scientists Resist With Rogue Twitter Accounts
WASHINGTON, January 26, 2017—After the Trump administration’s apparent attempt to suppress government scientists’ ability to communicate with the public, a number of rogue accounts claiming to be run by anonymous federal employees have sprung up on Twitter.
Less than a week after Trump’s inauguration, employees at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Interior Department (which oversees the National Park Service), were all placed under a media blackout order, preventing them from “providing updates on social media or to reporters” or releasing “any public-facing documents” including “news releases, photos, fact sheets, news feeds, and social media content,” according to memos obtained by several news organizations.
The first rogue tweeter was apparently a former employee of Badlands National Park, who tweeted climate change data from the Park’s official Twitter account Tuesday. The tweets remained on the account for a few hours but were later removed. They did not go unnoticed, however.
— Nathan Rott (@NathanRott) January 24, 2017
Seemingly in response to the gag order, a new Twitter account,@ (first called @AltNatParkSer), surfaced Tuesday. As of this writing, the account already has 1.3 million followers, calling itself “[t]he Unofficial ‘Resistance’ team of U.S. National Park Service.”
The account claims to be run by “several active NPS rangers and friends,” according to one of their tweets.
Hi @JettGoldsmith This accnt being run by several active NPS rangers and friends.
— AltUSNatParkService (@AltNatParkSer) January 25, 2017
In a matter of hours, rogue accounts for several of the silenced agencies began to appear on Twitter and gain hundreds of thousands of followers. There are currently over 45 rogue accounts, in what some are calling “a Twitter movement in support of climate change science.” Most of the accounts claim to be run by anonymous government employees who disagree with the recently imposed gag order banning press communication and social media.
I got the idea for the title of this post from this brilliant tweet:
— Sonja Yoerg (@SonjaYoerg) January 22, 2017
This piece was updated to reflect the changes made to the @ Twitter account.
Featured Image: Delete, Flickr Creative Commons