Commentary

Rogue Park Service Account Gathers 1M Followers

Less than a week after Donald Trump’s inauguration, the new administration’s moves to control federal agencies’ interactions with the public, including via social media, has provoked what might be described as a social media guerrilla war by some federal employees.

Some outdoorsy types at the National Park Service are leading the way, with the creation of an “alternative” Twitter account for the NPS that was originally the work of several current employees as well as sympathizers. As of Thursday morning the account, AltUSNatParkService, had gathered 982,000 followers and was adding new followers at a steady clip.

The original authors didn’t reveal their identities for obvious reasons, but described themselves thusly: “This accnt being run by several active NPS rangers and friends.” The account management then apparently transitioned to a broader group, due in part to concerns about retaliation. The new management explained: “Several of us are environmental activists and two are journalists [our FACT checkers]. All of us are former scientists.”

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The Twitter profile lists a number of locations for the operators including several outside the U.S. – New York, Edinburgh and Hong Kong.

There’s no mistaking the account’s open hostility to President Trump. Indeed, the account kicked off on a scornfully defiant note: “Can't wait for President Trump to call us FAKE NEWS. You can take our official twitter, but you'll never take our free time!”

Another example: “Reports of an unidentified orange haired mammal close to President’s Park. Possibly invasive species. DC animal services have been notified.”

Other tweets reveal a more global perspective on environmental issues, for example noting the progress of a British legal case against Shell concerning pollution in the Niger Delta.

The account is also promoting the forthcoming “scientist’s march on Washington,” supposed to take place sometime in March.
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