Trump’s Plan to Quiet Agencies’ Twitter Accounts Isn’t Going as Planned

The Trump administration is already experimenting with just how far its newly-acquired authority can extend; after less than a week, it may have hit the breaking point.

Trump ordered several agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, to silence all public communications, including press releases and Twitter accounts.

The gag order comes amid worries that the new administration—chockfull of climate deniers—will restrict climate science and withhold data to the public. The White House webpage on climate change has already disappeared without explanation, and now the administration has announced that, astonishingly, EPA scientific studies will have to first be okayed by political staff before they’re released to the public.

The result? Some agencies are fighting back, subverting Trump using his own tool of choice. One alternative Twitter account, @AltNatParkSer, has quickly gone viral. And now, more agencies are joining the resistance, with @ActualEPAFacts and @RogueNASA,

This all started during the inauguration, when the National Park Service retweeted a side-by-side photo comparing Obama’s crowds in 2009 to the relatively meager crowds for Trump that he’s been noticeably insecure about since last Friday. The tweet was later deleted, but not before setting an example for others to follow. The Badlands National Parks account broke the gag order and sent out a series of tweets citing climate change statistics, but they were quickly deleted and blamed on a “former employee.”

It’s unclear if the account—which has amassed over one million followers—is actually run by disgruntled employees of the National Park Service, but regardless, the account has been effective in mobilizing an online resistance to Trump’s atrocious climate policies.

The account advocates a range of causes, dropping shots at the new president whenever possible. Retweets of climate research are frequent, and the page frequently links to NASA’s official climate site, rebuking the climate denier-in-chief, who has famously tweeted that climate change is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese.

In addition to sharing links to articles about climate change research, the account has published tweets speaking out against most of the hallmarks of the Trump agenda, from the wall across the Mexico border to the green light the president gave to the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines.

The administration has yet to respond, though Trump’s notoriously thin skin could easily be pierced by this act of rebellion. It is also a demonstration that Trump has no monopoly on Twitter, and those he thrashes out against can easily wield the same weapon right back.

Peregrine Frissell

Peregrine Frissell is an intern at the Washington Monthly. He has previously worked for papers in Connecticut, Montana and Kathmandu, Nepal and is a graduate of the School of Journalism at the University of Montana.