Last month, we reported how a handful of social media accounts claiming to be alternative government agencies, (e.g. Alt National Park Service, Alt NASA) were cropping up across the internet. To bring you up to speed, during the Trump Administration’s transition, the president issued a temporary gag order for a handful of government agencies including the Environmental Protection Agency. It’s worth noting that it’s not uncommon for incoming administrations to temporarily suspend communications of government agencies until they can refine their messaging. But in the wake of the president’s media blackout, Badlands National Park went rogue on Twitter, and a handful of “Alt” U.S. agencies were on Twitter and Facebook overnight.
We are unable to independently verify the identity of the individuals behind the accounts, but according to the accounts themselves their messaging is supported by existing members of the respective agency, and for their safety they have chosen to remain anonymous.
If the claims are to be believed, recent postings on Facebook reveal a bleak reality for dissenters of the current administration in a variety of agencies. The most foreboding post came from Alt NASA on Tuesday. The post reads, “We have not been able to post because of our hostile working conditions. If you have a friend or family member working for NASA, EPA, or NPS the stories they tell are true, it is truely a hard time [sic].”
A little less foreboding, but equally alarming is a recent post by Alt National Park Service explaining their support for those protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline, and the coalition’s belief that recent efforts to use National Park Service employees against the water protectors is an effort to discredit the coalition.
Apparently media outlets and reporters have also threatened these coalitions for failure to disclose their members’ identities. “These threats were created because we refuse to respond to media request, we are not willing to lose our jobs for a news story,” the post reads.
Again, without being able to confirm the identity of those behind these postings, it’s impossible to know if life behind the bureaucratic curtain is as bad as it sounds.
Irrespective of who is actually behind these accounts, though, and maybe more importantly, these accounts have garnered a significant following. Alt National Park Service, for example, has over 1 million followers. And the page continues to post concrete methods to lobby officials and members of congress. It’s likely, for example, that the Alt National Park Service account contributed to some extent to the deluge of callers into EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt’s office following his recent remarks about climate change. An impact like that cannot be dismissed.