Yesterday, the National Park Service twitter account retweeted a post providing a visual comparison of the crowds at the 2009 inauguration versus 2017. This image is now widely available over social media. Directly below was another retweet making an observation about the White House website, “civil rights, climate change, and health care scrubbed clean from White House website. Not a trace.” As of 4:30pm ET, January 20th, 2017, both of these retweets were still publically available.
Not long after, however, National Park employees allegedly received the following email*:
“…We have received direction from the Department through [the Washington Support Office] that directs all [Department of Interior] bureaus to immediately cease the use of government Twitter accounts until further notice.”
The email goes on to note that Twitter is used as part of crisis communications plans and that departments would need to alter their contingency plans to accommodate this requirement. The email added that officials ought to,
“…ensure all scheduled posts are deleted and automated cross-platform social media connections to your Twitter accounts are severed. The expectation is that there will be absolutely no posts to Twitter…this Twitter stand-down means we will cease use of Twitter immediately. However, there is no need to suspend or delete government accounts until directed.”
*This email was originally reported on by Gizmodo, a media source that does tend to be biased toward liberal causes. However, Gizmodo, which primarily publishes information about technology, ranks “high” in the category of factual reporting, according to this rating system.)
Since yesterday, every Tweet or Retweet that was posted to the National Park Service Twitter account on January 20, 2017, has been deleted. As of January 21, at 5:21AM, The National Park Service Twitter account, Tweeted the following apology:
“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“
I recognize that many organizations have a social media conduct policy, ensuring that individual members of the wider organization represent the organization favorably. But I still can’t help but be a little concerned that we might be rapidly approaching a new age of media censorship. There are just too many red flags to ignore.