GOING ROGUE

Government agencies are tweeting facts in defiance of US president Trump (until they’re deleted)

Obsession
"America First"
Obsession
"America First"

Since the inauguration of Donald Trump to the White House on Jan. 20, various government bodies have, with varying degrees of subtlety, pushed back on Twitter against the new US president’s stances on certain issues. Trump has said that global warming is “bullshit,” and referred to it as a conspiracy created by China. Some arms of government have chosen to disagree with the president, stating provable facts on Twitter.

On Friday, the day of Trump’s inauguration, the National Parks Service (NPS) retweeted a series of tweets highlighting the relatively meagre turnout for the president’s swearing-in, and critiquing the White House for removing information from its websites on a range of issues. Here are a few of the tweets the account retweeted:

A few hours later, it seems that someone within the Trump administration noticed. The retweets were removed, and the Parks Service Twitter account stopped tweeting for a while. It was resurrected the next day, apologizing for the retweets.

On Monday, Jan. 23, the Department of Defense sent out a tweet about the connection of social media activity to a person’s mental health that some on the internet believed might be an oblique reference to Trump:

Trump, throughout his presidential campaign and since his elections, has took to Twitter at all times of day and night to respond to ribbings from comedians, actresses, and the press. However, since the story linked in the tweet was about suicide prevention in the military, it’s relatively unlikely that the DoD was throwing shade directly at Trump.

But today, one federal agency seemed to be blatantly undermining Trump administration policy. Seemingly in spite of what happened to the main National Parks Twitter account, the account for the Badlands National Park (situated in South Dakota), tweeted out a series of facts about global warming: They ranged from the fact that the level of carbon dioxide (a greenhouse gas) in the atmosphere is at the highest it’s been in the last half-million years, to what burning gasoline does to the atmosphere, and how much more acidic our oceans have become as a result of climate change. Some Twitter users recognized the risk immediately:

They were in right their assessment of the threat; a short while later, the tweets were removed.

Earlier today, both the US Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Agriculture were reportedly told to stop posting to social media and talking to the press. The National Parks Service, however, hasn’t received any orders with regard to their communication public or press, says Ramona Turner, the NPS’s Freedom of Information Act officer stationed in Omaha, Nebraska.

Badlands National Park itself is stuck in the middle of a heavy blizzard, says park superintendent Michael Pflaum. Pflaum says he’s heard about the tweets, but didn’t know anything about them, adding that he’d been out all day shoveling snow. “We’ve been working on digging out, plowing roads, the visitors centers closed, administrative center is closed,” Pflaum said. “We’ve got the full on-scale blizzard going, so we’re shut down.” Christine Czazasty, chief of interpretation and education for the park, who also handles social media, did not respond to a request for comment; Pflaum says Czazasty has been working from home due to the weather.

Whoever has been removing the Badlands’ most recent tweets hasn’t gone that far back in time:

And climate change-related facts tweeted out by other National Parks and government offices have been so far left untouched:

Supporters are thanking Badlands for tweeting by commenting on the agency’s recent Facebook post about being closed today. “Thank you for speaking out on climate change and standing up against the gag order. I don’t know how much longer you’ll be able to, but please know that so many of us support you,” one commenter said.

The White House wasn’t immediately available to comment on the removed tweets.

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