National Park Service Twitter Accounts Step Up Campaign Against Trump

A park service spokesman declined to comment Wednesday

Badlands park
Badlands National Park

Several National Park Service' social media accounts have tweeted out messages decidedly at odds with President Donald Trump's agenda, posting quotes, data and commentary that could be seen as trying to bait their new boss into a confrontation.

A day after four climate-related tweets were posted and then deleted on the Badlands National Park's twitter account, other park accounts have sent out tweets that appear to defy Trump. One, by Redwoods National Park in California, notes that redwood groves are nature's No. 1 carbon sink, which capture greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming.

"More redwoods would mean less #climatechange," the park said in a tweet.

The tweets went beyond climate change. Death Valley National Park tweeted photos of Japanese Americans interned there during World War II, a message that some saw as objecting to Trump's pledge to ban Muslims from entering the country and a proposal to restrict the flow of refugees to the United States.

A park service spokesman declined to comment Wednesday.

In a series of tweets Tuesday, Badlands National Park's Twitter account accurately quoted climate science data, including the current record-setting high concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. Trump has called climate change a hoax.

The tweets were shared thousands of times, and the Democratic National Committee circulated the message by email with the subject line "Resist."

The South Dakota park's posts were deleted after they went viral on Twitter, sparking debate over whether the park was defying the Trump administration.

According to a National Park Service spokesman, the tweets were posted by a former employee who is not authorized to use the park's account. Tom Crosson, NPS's chief of public affairs, told NBC the park was not told to remove the tweets but "chose to do so when they realized that their account had been compromised."

"At this time, National Park Service social media managers are encouraged to continue the use of Twitter to post information relating to public safety and park information, with the exception of content related to national policy issues," Crosson added.

The tweets came just three days after the Interior Department briefly suspended its Twitter accounts after the park service retweeted photos about turnout at Trump's inauguration, which the president has claimed without evidence was larger than reported by news media. The accounts were reactivated the next day.

The White House says certain government agencies are taking action to address the "inappropriate" use of social media.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer addressed an incident at the Defense Department in which tweets were sent from the department's official account that suggested underhanded criticism of President Donald Trump's policies.

Spicer said an "unauthorized user" had an old password and logged into the Twitter account from the San Francisco office, then tweeted "inappropriate things that were in violation of their policy."

He also cited an incident last year at the Environmental Protection Agency, saying both agencies are going to take action.

E-mails sent to EPA staff and reviewed by The Associated Press detailed specific prohibitions banning press releases, blog updates or posts to the agency's social media accounts as part of a push by the Trump administration to institute a media blackout.

In a statement, an EPA spokesperson said: "The EPA fully intends to continue to provide information to the public. A fresh look at public affairs and communications processes is common practice for any new Administration, and a short pause in activities allows for this assessment."

Similar orders barring external communications have been issued by the Trump administration at other federal agencies in recent days, including the Agriculture and Interior departments.

A spokesman for the U.S. Department of Agriculture told NBC News it is "not a new policy" to "tap the breaks" on "informational products like news releases and social media content" during the beginning of a new administration. Agricultural Research Service Officer Chris Bentley asserted the agency "did something similar in the public affairs world between the Bush and Obama administrations," and said the suspension of public information should end "in a matter of weeks."

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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