Users Turning Twitter
By Wayne Schutsky
Modern Times Magazine
Jan. 27, 2016 — Social media, namely Twitter, has long been the realm of Trump. From the very beginnings of his improbable campaign through his inauguration and current term, the President has used the platform to badger opponents, push ambiguous policy initiatives and even defend the size of his hands. But Twitter, long a favorite weapon of the commander-in-chief, is now turning against him as a few enterprising (and anonymous) users — some likely employees from the U.S. National Park Service — found a way to use Twitter to undermine their new boss.
This all started when Mr. Trump put the kibosh on all tweets coming from the Parks Service in the wake of his inauguration. He did this because the agency, which manages the facilities in which the inauguration took place but no longer provides crowd size estimates, retweeted a series of messages suggesting that the recent inauguration attendance paled in comparison to that of former President Barack Obama’s inauguration in 2009.
The agency eventually retracted the retweets and posted a tweet walking back its earlier activity, but the damage had been done.
We regret the mistaken RTs from our account yesterday and look forward to continuing to share the beauty and history of our parks with you pic.twitter.com/mctNNvlrmv— NationalParkService (@NatlParkService) January 21, 2017
You see, other parks service Twitter accounts had been busy posting an array of scientific data regarding climate science and its effect on our national parks and the environment. These tweets were also mysteriously removed despite having no clear political motives beyond pointing out realities of climate change that are accepted by the vast majority of climate scientists across the planet.
But science would not be silenced for long.
Soon thereafter, new Twitter accounts popped up called BadHombreLands NPS (@BadHombreNPS) and AltUSNatParkService (@AltNatParkSer). Since January 24, the accounts have gathered 127,000 and 1.19 million followers, respectively.
Can't wait for President Trump to call us FAKE NEWS.— AltUSNatParkService (@AltNatParkSer) January 25, 2017
You can take our official twitter, but you'll never take our free time!
The anonymous users behind these accounts have used the social media platform to great effect, sharing a mix of climate data, information for activists and humorous observations about our new President and his administration.
While the identities of the individuals behind these accounts is unknown, some contextual evidence does point to actual parks service employees being involved, at least initially. The first tweet from the @BadHombreNPS account states that it was created to share the facts that the official @BadlandsNPS account could no longer share. The facts the account did share, in addition to the many satirical tweets, also point to users with a very in-depth knowledge of climate science and the National Parks system.
The AltUSNatParkService account was also likely started by actual federal employees. On Thursday, the account posted several tweets notifying followers that it was transferring ownership to “activists & journalists” due to the fact that it was putting pressure on their colleagues.
But we cannot escape the pressure that the popularity of this account has brought on our colleagues. It's selfish to continue ourselves.— AltUSNatParkService (@AltNatParkSer) January 26, 2017
As such, we are handing control of this account over to several activists & journalists who believe they can continue in the same spirit.— AltUSNatParkService (@AltNatParkSer) January 26, 2017
In recent days, similar accounts—like @rogueNASA—have popped up representing other agencies that will likely face budget cuts, censorship and other crackdowns under the new administration.
The creation and subsequent popularity of these profiles proves that social media—long the bastion of the vapid, thoughtless and small-handed minded—can also be used to speak truth to power and stare down warrantless restrictions on free thought created by a plutocratic regime bent on silencing any thoughts, facts or information it deems dangerous.
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