When the Trump administration ordered the Interior Department to shutter its official Twitter accounts on Friday, the ban was reportedly in response to two retweets posted by an employee of The National Park Service. The tweets were considered unflattering because they demonstrated the difference in crowd size between Obama’s 2009 inauguration and Trump’s inauguration, The Hill reports.
Plenty Of No-Shows At Trump’s Inauguration
“All bureaus and the department have been directed by incoming administration to shut down Twitter platforms immediately until further notice,” an email to Park Service employees said on Friday.
National Parks Service spokesman Thomas Crosson apologized on Twitter for the “mistaken RTs from our accounts,” in reference to the retweets, The Washington Post reports.
In the email to Park Service employees, Crosson said the tweets were “inconsistent with the agency’s approach to engaging the public through social media.”
“The Department of the Interior’s Communications Team determined that it was important to stand down Twitter activity across the Department temporarily, except in the case of public safety,” Crosson wrote.
“Now that social media guidance has been clarified, the Department and its bureaus should resume Twitter engagement as normal this weekend.”
But there’s one exception, he said: No social media posts can address the policy priorities of the new Interior Secretary, because Trump’s nominee, Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-Mont.), has yet to be confirmed.
And this apology, posted by the National Park Service, is quite picturesque:
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
It’s safe to say that the Park Service remained mum about Saturday’s Women’s March on Twitter.
When the Park Service was reinstated, a frantic series of tweets, retweets and internal memos commenced, The Post reports, doing damage control to keep from further embarrassing the Trump administration.
But for many people who don’t like Trump, the Park Service is now considered heroic. On Saturday, someone tweeted “The National Park Service has gone rogue.” Others took to Twitter to defend the agency for telling it like it is.
@NatlParkService bullshit! Don’t you dare apologize. Not about a POTUS & Congress ready to give up NPS lands who can’t handle criticism. pic.twitter.com/oOGSMyyaqn
— Rob D (@BigBlueAddict) January 21, 2017
@NatlParkService It is not the fault of the National Park Service that the turnout for President Trump’s #Inauguration was poor.
— Joshua Brandwood (@joshbrandwood) January 21, 2017
@NatlParkService don’t apologize for documenting history
— Cathy Summers (@cathsummers) January 21, 2017
The first share was a tweet with a photo of the small crowd that attended Trump’s inauguration, comparing it with the massive crowd that attended Obama’s inauguration in 2009. The follow-up tweet mentioned the numerous omissions of policy areas on the White House’s new website.
The Interior Department has dozens of Twitter accounts at its numerous offices and 10 bureaus, the Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the U.S. Geological Survey among them.
And others, such as New York Time reporter Binyamin Appelbaum highlighted the differences in crowd size with this tweet:
Looks like the Trump administration hasn’t taken control of the @NatlParkService Twitter feed just yet. pic.twitter.com/dCKGHoW0cU
— Binyamin Appelbaum (@BCAppelbaum) January 20, 2017
“Compare the crowds: 2009 inauguration at left, 2017 inauguration at right,” Appelbaum wrote. Twitter user Anne Trumble fired off the second tweet, noting that the Trump administration eliminated climate change, civil rights and healthcare-related issues from the official White House website.
And one government official familiar with the “stand-down” said the agency needs to investigate whether the tweets were purposeful, “errant” or “whether we’ve been hacked.”
In general, retweeting means sharing another person’s tweet. It’s a way, after all, to share information. But in the government’s case, the agency disseminating the information must make sure that information has been approved by the by the administration. And the policy also means not disparaging the president.
Crosson didn’t say if the employee who disseminated the tweets had been identified, but the offending tweets were removed. He also said it’s against Park Service policy to estimate the size of crowds because the estimates are often inaccurate.
“Due to the difficult in accurately assessing crowd estimates for large events, most notably following 1995’s Million Man March, the national park service no longer makes it a practice to provide crowd estimates for permitted events,” Crosson said. “While we make internal estimates for staffing, it is left to the discretion of event organizers to make a determination of the event attendance.”