Culture

The Rise of the Rogue Government Tweeters

4 Feb 2017 2:00pm, by

It started with a single tweet and ended with the roar of #Resist. The U.S. National Park Service (NPS), who maintains a very active Twitter feed, re-tweeted a set of images by Reuters showing the Washington Mall, which is a national park after all, on the inauguration days in 2009 and 2017. An NPS employee accompanied the Reuters photographer, to the top of the Washington Monument to obtain the shot.

The newly inaugurated U.S. president Donald Trump was enraged and shut down the feed, according to news reports. By the looks of it, the former U.S. president Barack Obama drew many more people for his first term inauguration.The NPS apologized for the retweet the next day and went back to tweeting non-controversial encouragements to visit a national park.

At the same time, the President Trump issued a gag order on communications that have not been approved by the Office of Federal Register (OFR) applying to several U.S. government agencies, including the Departments of Energy, Interior, Agriculture, Health and Human Services, Transportation, the Environmental Protection Agency and National Institute of Health.

In fact, all science done with government funds must now be passed by the OFR before being allowed to be made public. This from an administration who is in denial about the fact that the earth’s climate is changing rapidly.

Enter the resistance. The employees from the National Park Service came out in force.

New Twitter handles popped up overnight, many of which seem to be manned by government employees on their off hours. Meet @altus_nps (25.4K followers), @BadHombreNPS (184K) @AltNatParkSer (55.7k), @AltMtRainier (54.3k), @NatParkUndrgrnd and @NotAltWorld (1.31M) followers. collectively, they’ve amassed nearly 1.7 million followers, all within less than two weeks.

@badHombreNPS seems to be the most badass of the lot. According to its Twitter profile, it is the “unofficial feed of Badlands National Park,” located in South Dakota. Its mission is to the protect the park’s “rugged scenery, fossil beds, 244,000 acres of mixed-grass prairie & wildlife from two-bit Cheeto-hued despots.”

In between calls to action, posting phone numbers of members of congress and watching the progress of bills and cabinet appointments, the feed is filled with fascinating nature facts about the Badlands National Park, though occasional with a sardonic twist.

Employees or outside supporters of other agencies quickly followed:

@AltForestServ, The Resistance aka @ActualEPAFacts (214K), @ungaggedEPA both were created to give a voice to the Environmental Protection Agency. @AltHHS offered the same for Heath and Human Services, @Alt_FDA for the Food and Drug Administration, @AltUSDA for the Department of Agriculture.  The Resistance summed it up nicely:

The full list of rogue accounts now has over 80 handles.

Many of the accounts have transferred the admin to non-government people. @NotAltWorld decided to pass control of the account to outside parties “for the sake of our colleagues.” NPS and other government logos are copyrighted, so new logos have been designed by their twitter followers. And it Tweeted a resource for government whistleblowers.

Some security experts are upset because these accounts are not verified by the blue checkmark, according to this article in Forbes. Seriously? In the end, these rogue accounts are supporting each other and supporting us in getting actual facts into the hands of the American people.

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