The brand new Trump administration is already dealing with a full-blown resistance — millions of women who marched around the globe, scientists planning their own protest, and, perhaps most incredibly, the Twitter feeds of at least two national parks.
The Trump administration has reportedly put several federal agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Agriculture, under a gag order — no updates, no news releases, no photos, no fact sheets, and no social media content until further notice, according to a leaked memo obtained by BuzzFeed News.
But still, Twitter accounts of some government agencies, from the Department of Defense to national parks, have sent out tweets that sound an awful lot like criticisms of President Trump’s public persona and preferred policies.
The Department of Defense
Just as the Trump administration begins rolling out its immigration and refugee policies, the Department of Defense on Wednesday tweeted this:
The Defense Department Twitter account routinely promotes photos and stories showing different angles of military life. But profiling a 23-year-old Iraqi refugee who is now serving as a US Marine in Iraq just as Trump is reportedly about to sign executive orders suspending refugee admissions, as well as visas of any kind for Iraqi citizens, is at the very least an extremely unusual coincidence.
Healthcare.gov still wants people to sign up for Obamacare
Even after Trump signed his executive order instructing agencies to do as much as they can legally to dismantle Obamacare, Healthcare.gov remained very much alive and in action on Twitter. Over the past few days, it has tweeted about the benefits of the Affordable Care Act and encouraged people to sign up for coverage.
The National Park Service suspended all tweets after retweeting a photo that compared inaugural crowd sizes
During President Trump’s inaugural address on Friday, the National Park Service retweeted New York Times reporter Binyamin Appelbaum’s viral tweet that compared crowd sizes of President Trump’s inauguration and President Obama’s 2009 address.
The comparison between his inauguration turnout and Obama’s and the Women’s Marches across the globe sent Trump into a bitter rage, the Washington Post reported. Even days later, Trump had not let the issue go, claiming in a televised interview that he had the “largest crowd in history,” a claim the park service retweet shows is clearly not true.
CNN reported that employees at NPS received an email on Friday that instructed them not to tweet this weekend and to “make sure that any scheduled tweets are no longer scheduled.”
The offending tweet was then deleted and resulted in a suspension of Twitter activity at the agency on Friday and for a few hours on Saturday. But by mid-morning Saturday, the NPS was back online with a tweet apologizing for its “mistaken” retweets.
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
But it wasn’t just crowd sizes that got the NPS in trouble. The agency had also retweeted an article by Esquire on Friday about sections on civil rights, climate change, and health care being scrubbed clean from WhiteHouse.gov.
National parks are tweeting about climate change and Japanese internment
Two national parks, meanwhile, also sent some tweets about issues relevant to Trump administration policy.
The Badlands National Park in South Dakota, which routinely tweets facts about climate change, sent several tweets about its ongoing effects:
Today, the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is higher than at any time in the last 650,000 years. #climate— Badlands Nat'l Park (@BadlandsNPS) January 24, 2017
The tweets were later deleted, and the park’s director said they were sent by a former employee who still had access to the account, but their message was particularly poignant under Trump, who has openly called global warming a hoax “created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive.”
Golden Gate National Park got in on it too:
Meanwhile, Death Valley National Park tweeted about nearby Japanese internment camps during World War II. Trump’s critics (and occasionally his supporters) have compared Trump’s proposed Muslim ban — which appears to be taking the form, at least initially, of a suspension of visas to some Muslim-majority countries — to the camps.
Whether or not these government agencies had Trump in mind with their social media content, the political implications of the messages have not been lost on the Twittersphere.
In wake of the Women’s Marches effectively protesting against Trump’s inauguration, and other nationwide protests of the new administration’s policies, people have been quick to jump on even the subtlest signs of resistance.
The thing the dystopian novels could never predict was the sudden rebellion of the national park social media managers— David Hoyt (@DavidJHoyt) January 25, 2017
I wish the Democrats in office had the courage of a South Dakota national park social media intern.— Brandon (@bnowalk) January 24, 2017
From the Department of Defense’s well-timed promotion of an Iraqi refugee Marine to the national parks’ reminders of the impact of climate change, federal agencies’ routine social media practices seem to have turned into subtweets aimed at the president.