POLITICS
01/26/2017 10:43 pm ET Updated Jan 27, 2017

Alternative Twitter Explodes Over Alternative Facts And Gag Orders

Dozens of "rogue agency" sites fight back.

It started with tweets by Badlands National Park on climate change in defiance of a gag order by the Trump administration. When those tweets were deleted by bosses, up popped the renegade “AltUSNatParkService” site with more of the same. Now dozens of alternative Twitter sites purporting to represent workers at federal agencies are tweeting out a massive resistance to climate change denial and a perceived war on science and facts.

By Thursday evening, at least 51 renegade Twitter sites were claiming to represent the Trump resistance at NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Homeland Security, the presidential staff, the Forest Service and the Department of Agriculture, among others. Several sites representing specific parks across the nation were also off and running. By Thursday evening, the site that started the rogue trend, @AltNatParkService, had 1.2 million followers, three times as many as the official National Park Service site.

The movement took off over the weekend after the National Park Service’s Twitter account was suspended by the Department of the Interior, which oversees the NPS, after tweets about climate change and posts with photos comparing Trump’s smaller inauguration crowd to Barack Obama’s 2009 inauguration.

Trump ordered acting National Park Service Director Michael Reynolds to produce more photos that would back up his insistence — against all visual evidence — that his inauguration crowd on Jan. 20 was bigger than Obama’s in 2009, The Washington Post reported Thursday.

Other actions also seemed to spur the resistance. On Monday, EPA grants were frozen and employees were told not to discuss the crackdown with anyone outside the agency. The EPA was ordered to scrub climate change information from its website, though that command was later rescinded. The USDA’s main research branch was also told to cease communication with the public. 

It’s impossible to definitely determine if the rogue sites actually represent workers at the agencies, because the point is to hide writers’ identities to protect them from retaliation. The AltUSNatParkService site initially said it was the “unofficial team” of the park service and was being run by “rangers and friends.” The site was later handed off to activists and journalists to protect workers at the park service, its founders tweeted.

Many of the tweets across the various rogue sites deal with how climate change (a phrase that has been eradicated from the White House website) and other scientific issues are being addressed, or not, by the Trump administration.

The AltNWS site for the National Weather Service promises “non-partisan science-based weather, water, and climate info.”

But the AltUSNatParkService site threw the rogue movement open to anyone, even suggesting a renegade CIA voice might be helpful.

Trump’s skepticism about vaccinations became another trending issue. 

One of the more entertaining sites of the resistance movement is Rogue POTUS Staff.

There was no immediate response from the White House to a request Thursday night for comment on the rogue sites.

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