With the inauguration of Donald Trump, the United States finds itself in a virtually unprecedented situation, pitting the president against large swathes of the federal civil service he is supposed to lead.
And social media has become a key battlefield in the ensuing war of words.
In a move to preempt critical or embarrassing content from appearing on social media, the Trump administration temporarily ordered the Department of the Interior be suspended,following two unfavorable tweets from an account operated by the National Park Service.
He followed up this week with similar social media bans at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Department of Transportation, Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health and Environmental Protection Agency.
Some of the suspensions have been lifted or moderated somewhat, but as of Wednesday, the EPA – long disliked by conservatives and a frequent target for Trump’s criticism – apparently remains under a total media blackout, forbidden to communicate with the media or public, including via social media.
The last tweet from the EPA’s official Twitter account, @EPA, was sent on January 19, the day before Trump’s inauguration.
However, there appear to be some signs of resistance to the blackout, at least unofficially. On Tuesday an ex-NPS employee of Badlands National Park in South Dakota reportedly hijacked the NPS' Twitter account in order to post statements about climate change in a series of tweets. Trump has dismissed climate change as a hoax.
The first tweet on the Badlands National Park Twitter feed stated: “The pre-industrial concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was 280 parts per million (ppm). As of December 2016, 404.93 ppm.”
The second tweet stated: “Today, the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is higher than at any time in the last 650,000 years. #climate”
The third tweet stated: “Flipside of the atmosphere; ocean acidity has increased 30% since the Industrial Revolution. ‘Ocean Acidification" #climate #carboncycle’”The tweets were deleted after Badlands administrators determined an ex-employee had hacked the Twitter account.