In the last few days more than 50 Twitter accounts—some claiming to be from employees at U.S. government agencies—have been set up to protest the actions by President Trump’s new administration effectively muzzling federal climate-change research and other science.
One of the first rogue accounts to emerge was the unofficial National Park Service’s @AltNatParkSer account Tuesday, which now has 1.25 million followers. That was quickly followed by unofficial, unverified accounts for NASA — @RogueNASA — and the Environmental Protection Agency, @AltUSEPA.
The accounts come in the wake of a Trump administration gag order on federal workers reported by CNN that includes the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Park Service (which is part of the Interior Department), where workers were instructed to remove web pages on climate change, cease dissemination of climate facts and decline calls from reporters.
“How sad is it that government employees have to create rogue Twitter accounts just to communicate FACTS to the American public?,” posted someone from @RogueNASA.”
“Can’t wait for President Trump to call us FAKE NEWS,” one anonymous Tweeter posted on the then newly opened Twitter account @AltNatParkService. “You can take our official twitter, but you’ll never take our free time!”
Using the National Park Service’s official logo as an avatar, the Twitter account calls itself “The Unofficial#Resistance team of U.S. National Park Service.” Among its first tweets was the recognition that its existence was stirring trouble within the service: “This account should not have to exist & we are sorry for any problems we are causing our colleagues. But we didn’t start this.#resist.”
No one manning the account responded to PEOPLE’s request for an interview.
Other science advocates are stepping up to combat the Trump administration’s denial of climate change and fill the void left as the administration takes action to codify its position.
Trump famously rejected the science of climate change when he tweeted in 2012 that climate change is a hoax, “created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.” He has also said he wants to pull the United States out of the Paris accord on climate chance, cut funding for United Nations climate change programs and get rid of regulations aimed at curbing pollution and emissions of greenhouse gases.
On Thursday, former Vice President Al Gore, working with private health groups, announced an Atlanta conference on climate change to replace the one the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention abruptly canceled as Trump took power.
Gore, one of the world’s most prominent climate-change activists, “called me and we talked about it and we said, ‘There’s still a void and still a need.’ We said, ‘Let’s make this thing happen,’ ” Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association, told The Washington Post.
The going-rogue began after Trump’s Jan. 20 swearing-in when the National Park Service was forced to shut down its official Twitter activity temporarily after an employee re-tweeted posts about low attendance at Trump’s inauguration.
A former Badlands National Park Service employee then Tweeted under the park’s official Twitter feed some climate change facts in defiance of Trump.
Within hours the feed gained tens of thousands of followers before it was swiftly shut down.
The other government agency protest accounts that have since sprung up are being compiled under the banner of Twistance (“Twitter+resistance … US federal science agencies going rogue”) by Alice Stollmeyer on Twitter.