In a political climate so heavily intertwined with social media, it should hardly come as a surprise that government agencies typically associated with more progressive politics are using the anonymity of their handles to speak out against the new President of the United States.
The feud between environmental agencies and the Trump administration began when the official National Park Service account retweeted a photograph comparing the inauguration crowd sizes of 2009 and 2017.
Shortly after, Department of Interior employees were given the message that the “new administration has said that the department and all bureau are not supposed to tweet this weekend and wait for guidance until Monday.”
“Please make sure that any scheduled tweets are no longer scheduled,” the message continued.
The National Park Service account issued an apology, and chalked the incident up to a “mistake.”
We regret the mistaken RTs from our account yesterday and look forward to continuing to share the beauty and history of our parks with you pic.twitter.com/mctNNvlrmv
— NationalParkService (@NatlParkService) January 21, 2017
While the brief weekend outage may not have been an issue for most parks, some rely on social media for their crisis management plans, and to put out important safety information. Mount Rainier National Park, in Washington state, uses Twitter exclusively to put out daily road conditions and gate opening times.
Until further notice, all park road condition updates will provided on the Mount Rainier Facebook page https://t.co/JwFuETkGnM.
— MountRainierNPS (@MountRainierNPS) January 20, 2017
1/21 8:00 am Update: MRNP will continue to use Twitter for essential safety messages only, including road info. -pw
— MountRainierNPS (@MountRainierNPS) January 21, 2017
The communication issues didn’t stop with the Department of Interior, however.
On Tuesday morning, the Trump administration issued a media blackout for the Environmental Protection Agency. Emails sent to EPA staff and reviewed by The Associated Press detailed “specific prohibitions banning press releases, blog updates or posts to the agency’s social media accounts,” the AP reported.
“Incoming media requests will be carefully screened,” one directive said. “Only send out critical messages, as messages can be shared broadly and end up in the press.”
Later on Tuesday, Badlands National Park tweeted a series of facts about climate change.
The park quickly removed their tweets and the NPS issued a statement, blaming “a former employee who was not currently authorized to use the park’s account.”
The prohibitions sparked the creation of a number of unofficial National Park Service accounts. @AltNatParkSer, the self-proclaimed National Park Service “unofficial ‘resistance’ team” account has amassed a following of more than 1 million in under 48 hours – allegedly run by active National Park Service employees. Other unofficial accounts include @RogueNASA with 500,000 followers, @AltForestServ, @BadHombreNPS, and @AltForestServ, all with over 100,000 followers.