Facing Information Crackdown, Federal Agencies Go 'Rogue' on Twitter
Taking on President Donald Trump on his preferred battleground, roughly two dozen "rogue" Twitter accounts have sprung up since Tuesday, allegedly created by anonymous federal workers in irreverent protest of the Trump administration's anti-science stance.
The phenomenon began when the official Badlands National Park account started tweeting the facts about climate change—an effort that swiftly went viral earlier this week. While that account's tweets were later taken down, the spirit of the endeavor lived on in the face of an information crackdown by the incoming president and his alt-fact-promoting "beachhead teams."
@AltUSNatParkService was one of the first copycats, calling itself "the Unofficial 'Resistance' team of U.S. National Park Service."
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!
— AltUSNatParkService (@AltNatParkSer) January 25, 2017
Science is not a partisan issue. Science is the foundation of our society—we owe so much to peer-reviewed scientific research. #resist
— Rogue NASA (@RogueNASA) January 26, 2017
— U.S. EPA - Ungagged (@ungaggedEPA) January 25, 2017
Global sea level rose about 17 centimeters in the last century. The rate in the last decade is nearly double that of the last century.
— AltEPA (@ActualEPAFacts) January 26, 2017
— Alt HHS (@AltHHS) January 26, 2017
It remains unclear how many of these accounts were actually registered or being maintained by current or former federal employees, with The Verge noting that gleeful re-tweeters "should remember that these accounts are emotionally gratifying, not edifying."
Indeed, @RogueNASA reminded its followers of the very real reason for the rogue accounts on Wednesday:
Rogue Twitter accounts are fun, but gov't employees and scientists are very afraid of being fired if they speak out & share facts. #resist
— Rogue NASA (@RogueNASA) January 25, 2017
As Common Dreams reported Wednesday, momentum for a Scientists' March on Washington has grown dramatically in recent days.
If a war on facts "is actually part of your governing philosophy," California Academy of Sciences executive director Jonathan Foley wrote to Trump at Scientific American on Wednesday, "I would give you a warning on behalf of my fellow scientists: Do not mess with us. Do not try to bury the truth. Do not interfere with the free and open pursuit of science. You do so at your peril."
"Americans don't look kindly on bullies, people who try to suppress the truth, or people who try to intimidate scientists and the press," Foley wrote. "In the long run, this always backfires. The dustbin of history is full of people who have tried, and failed. You will too."