US government scientists go 'rogue' in defiance of President Trump

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Before you go close icon

Jan 25 (Reuters) - Employees from more than a dozen U.S. government agencies have established a network of unofficial "rogue" Twitter feeds in defiance of what they see as attempts by President Donald Trump to muzzle federal climate change research and other science.

Seizing on Trump's favorite mode of discourse, scientists at the Environmental Protection Agency, NASA and other bureaus have privately launched Twitter accounts - borrowing names and logos of their agencies - to protest restrictions they view as censorship and provide unfettered platforms for information the new administration has curtailed.

"Can't wait for President Trump to call us FAKE NEWS," one anonymous National Park Service employee posted on the newly opened Twitter account @AltNatParkService. "You can take our official twitter, but you'll never take our free time!"

RELATED: Global warming, climate change impacting Patagonia's massive glaciers

13 PHOTOS
Global warming, climate change impacting Patagonia's massive glaciers
See Gallery
Global warming, climate change impacting Patagonia's massive glaciers
SANTA CRUZ PROVINCE, ARGENTINA - NOVEMBER 29: Ice calves from the Northern wall of the Perito Moreno glacier in Los Glaciares National Park, part of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field, on November 29, 2015 in Santa Cruz Province, Argentina. Certain areas of glacial ice take on a bluish hue due to light refraction. The Southern Patagonian Ice Field is the third largest ice field in the world. The majority of the almost 50 large glaciers in Los Glaciares National Park have been retreating during the past fifty years due to warming temperatures, according to the European Space Agency (ESA). The United States Geological Survey (USGS) reports that over 68 percent of the world's freshwater supplies are locked in ice caps and glaciers. The United Nations climate change conference begins November 30 in Paris. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
SANTA CRUZ PROVINCE, ARGENTINA - NOVEMBER 28: Runoff cascades from the edge of Heim glacier in Los Glaciares National Park, part of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field, the third largest ice field in the world, on November 28, 2015 in Santa Cruz Province, Argentina. The majority of the almost fifty large glaciers in the park have been retreating over the past fifty years due to warming temperatures, according to the European Space Agency (ESA). The United States Geological Survey reports that over 68 percent of the world's freshwater supplies are locked in icecaps and glaciers. The United Nations climate change conference begins November 30 in Paris. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
SANTA CRUZ PROVINCE, ARGENTINA - NOVEMBER 27: The Perito Moreno glacier stands in Los Glaciares National Park, part of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field, the third largest ice field in the world, on November 27, 2015 in Santa Cruz Province, Argentina. Certain areas of glacial ice take on a blueish hue due to light refraction. The majority of the almost fifty large glaciers in the park have been retreating over the past fifty years due to warming temperatures, according to the European Space Agency (ESA). The United States Geological Survey (USGS) reports that over 68 percent of the world's freshwater supplies are locked in icecaps and glaciers. The United Nations climate change conference begins November 30 in Paris. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
SANTA CRUZ PROVINCE, ARGENTINA - NOVEMBER 28: Runoff cascades from the edge of Heim glacier in Los Glaciares National Park, part of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field, the third largest ice field in the world, on November 28, 2015 in Santa Cruz Province, Argentina. The majority of the almost fifty large glaciers in the park have been retreating over the past fifty years due to warming temperatures, according to the European Space Agency (ESA). The United States Geological Survey reports that over 68 percent of the world's freshwater supplies are locked in icecaps and glaciers. The United Nations climate change conference begins November 30 in Paris. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
SANTA CRUZ PROVINCE, ARGENTINA - NOVEMBER 27: The Perito Moreno glacier stands in Los Glaciares National Park, part of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field, the third largest ice field in the world, on November 27, 2015 in Santa Cruz Province, Argentina. The majority of the almost fifty large glaciers in the park have been retreating over the past fifty years due to warming temperatures, according to the European Space Agency (ESA). The United States Geological Survey (USGS) reports that over 68 percent of the world's freshwater supplies are locked in icecaps and glaciers. The United Nations climate change conference begins November 30 in Paris. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
SANTA CRUZ PROVINCE, ARGENTINA - NOVEMBER 29: The Perito Moreno glacier stands in Los Glaciares National Park, part of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field, on November 29, 2015 in Santa Cruz Province, Argentina. Certain areas of glacial ice take on a bluish hue due to light refraction. The Southern Patagonian Ice Field is the third largest ice field in the world. The majority of the almost 50 large glaciers in Los Glaciares National Park have been retreating during the past fifty years due to warming temperatures, according to the European Space Agency (ESA). The United States Geological Survey (USGS) reports that over 68 percent of the world's freshwater supplies are locked in ice caps and glaciers. The United Nations climate change conference begins November 30 in Paris. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
SANTA CRUZ PROVINCE, ARGENTINA - NOVEMBER 28: An iceberg broken off from a melting glacier floats in Lake Argentino, which holds runoff water from the Southern Patagonian Ice Field, the third largest ice field in the world, on November 28, 2015 in Santa Cruz Province, Argentina. The majority of the almost fifty large glaciers in the surrounding Los Glaciares National Park have been retreating over the past fifty years due to warming temperatures, according to the European Space Agency (ESA). The United States Geological Survey reports that over 68 percent of the world's freshwater supplies are locked in icecaps and glaciers. The United Nations climate change conference begins November 30 in Paris. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
SANTA CRUZ PROVINCE, ARGENTINA - NOVEMBER 29: Melting glacial ice floats in Los Glaciares National Park, part of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field, on November 29, 2015 in Santa Cruz Province, Argentina. Certain areas of glacial ice take on a bluish hue due to light refraction. The Southern Patagonian Ice Field is the third largest ice field in the world. The majority of the almost 50 large glaciers in Los Glaciares National Park have been retreating during the past fifty years due to warming temperatures, according to the European Space Agency (ESA). The United States Geological Survey (USGS) reports that over 68 percent of the world's freshwater supplies are locked in ice caps and glaciers. The United Nations climate change conference begins November 30 in Paris. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
SANTA CRUZ PROVINCE, ARGENTINA - NOVEMBER 28: An iceberg broken off from a melting glacier floats in Lake Argentino, which holds runoff water from the Southern Patagonian Ice Field, the third largest ice field in the world, on November 28, 2015 in Santa Cruz Province, Argentina. Certain areas of glacial ice take on a blueish hue due to light refraction. The majority of the almost fifty large glaciers in the surrounding Los Glaciares National Park have been retreating over the past fifty years due to warming temperatures, according to the European Space Agency (ESA). The United States Geological Survey reports that over 68 percent of the world's freshwater supplies are locked in icecaps and glaciers. The United Nations climate change conference begins November 30 in Paris. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
SANTA CRUZ PROVINCE, ARGENTINA - NOVEMBER 29: Melted glacial ice floats in Los Glaciares National Park, part of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field, on November 29, 2015 in Santa Cruz Province, Argentina. Certain areas of glacial ice take on a bluish hue due to light refraction. The Southern Patagonian Ice Field is the third largest ice field in the world. The majority of the almost 50 large glaciers in Los Glaciares National Park have been retreating during the past fifty years due to warming temperatures, according to the European Space Agency (ESA). The United States Geological Survey (USGS) reports that over 68 percent of the world's freshwater supplies are locked in ice caps and glaciers. The United Nations climate change conference begins November 30 in Paris. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
SANTA CRUZ PROVINCE, ARGENTINA - NOVEMBER 29: The Perito Moreno glacier stands in Los Glaciares National Park, part of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field, on November 29, 2015 in Santa Cruz Province, Argentina. Certain areas of glacial ice take on a bluish hue due to light refraction. The Southern Patagonian Ice Field is the third largest ice field in the world. The majority of the almost 50 large glaciers in Los Glaciares National Park have been retreating during the past fifty years due to warming temperatures, according to the European Space Agency (ESA). The United States Geological Survey (USGS) reports that over 68 percent of the world's freshwater supplies are locked in ice caps and glaciers. The United Nations climate change conference begins November 30 in Paris. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
SANTA CRUZ PROVINCE, ARGENTINA - NOVEMBER 28: Runoff cascades from the edge of Heim glacier in Los Glaciares National Park, part of the Southern Patagonian Ice Field, the third largest ice field in the world, on November 28, 2015 in Santa Cruz Province, Argentina. The majority of the almost fifty large glaciers in the park have been retreating over the past fifty years due to warming temperatures, according to the European Space Agency (ESA). The United States Geological Survey reports that over 68 percent of the world's freshwater supplies are locked in icecaps and glaciers. The United Nations climate change conference begins November 30 in Paris. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

The @RogueNASA account displayed an introductory disclaimer describing it as "The unofficial 'Resistance' team of NASA. Not an official NASA account." It beckoned readers to follow its feed "for science and climate news and facts. REAL NEWS, REAL FACTS."

The swift proliferation of such tweets by government rank-and-file followed internal directives several agencies involved in environmental issues have received since Trump's inauguration requiring them to curb their dissemination of information to the public.

Last week, Interior Department staff were told to stop posting on Twitter after an employee re-tweeted posts about relatively low attendance at Trump's swearing-in, and about how material on climate change and civil rights had disappeared from the official White House website.

Employees at the EPA and the departments of Interior, Agriculture and Health and Human Services have since confirmed seeing notices from the new administration either instructing them to remove web pages or limit how they communicate to the public, including through social media.

The restrictions have reinforced concerns that Trump, a climate change skeptic, is out to squelch federally backed research showing that emissions from fossil fuel combustion and other human activities are contributing to global warming.

The resistance movement gained steam on Tuesday when a series of climate change-related tweets were posted to the official Twitter account of Badlands National Park in South Dakota, administered under the Interior Department, but were soon deleted.

A Park Service official later said those tweets came from a former employee no longer authorized to use the official account and that the agency was being encouraged to use Twitter to post public safety and park information only, and to avoid national policy issues.

RELATED: The uncertain future of 2017

19 PHOTOS
The uncertain future of 2017
See Gallery
The uncertain future of 2017

RUSSIA'S GROWING INFLUENCE: Russian leader Vladimir Putin looks to position his nation as an alternate ally to countries such as the Philippines and Turkey who have been traditionally allied with the U.S.. Putin's Russia, accused of influencing the U.S. presidential election, could seek to cement their influence by providing support to other populists facing elections this year. REUTERS/Yuri Kochetkov/Pool

Source: Reuters 

SYRIA'S SHAKY PEACE: A truce deal brokered by Russia and Turkey faces challenges as clashes between rebel and government forces continue. A lasting peace deal could prove elusive as the large number of warring factions seek to protect their own interests and territories. REUTERS/Khalil Ashawi

Source: Reuters 

ISIS-INSPIRED ATTACKS CONTINUE: Following the highly orchestrated Islamic State attacks on Paris and Brussels, the world has witnessed a spate of attacks by individuals who appear to be inspired by the militant group, rather than in direct contact with them. 2017 looks set to see a continuation of these types of attacks as the year began with a mass shooting at a Turkish nightclub where the motive still remains unclear. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard 

Source: Reuters 

THE TRUMP BARGAIN: As President Trump takes office, the white working class that propelled him to the White House will be watching closely to see if he can bring back jobs as promised throughout the campaign. It remains to be seen if the divisive politics that characterized the bitter campaign will continue as Trump takes over the helm of a divided nation. REUTERS/Mike Segar

Source: Reuters 

MERKEL'S POLITICAL FUTURE IN JEOPARDY: German Chancellor Angela Merkel's support for accepting refugees risks costing her re-election when Germans go to the polls later in 2017. Following the Berlin Christmas market attack and in the run-up to the election, Merkel will continue to face demands to take a much tougher line on immigration and security. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke

Source: Reuters 

BREXIT IN REALITY: Britain will have to navigate how and when to trigger article 50 beginning the process to leave the European Union. How the decision affects immigration, trade and British citizens living in the EU member states should become clearer this year. REUTERS/Dylan Martinez

Source: Reuters 

VENEZUELA CRISIS DEEPENS: The oil-rich but cash-strapped nation faces a dire economic panorama of worsening food and medicine shortages as its socialist system continues to unravel. With few signs of financial relief on the horizon, President Nicolas Maduro faces escalating street protests as patience wears thin even among his supporters. REUTERS/Carlos Eduardo Ramirez

Source: Reuters 

RACE RELATIONS IN FOCUS: With the retrial of former police officer Michael Slager in the shooting death of Walter Scott slated for March, the Black Lives matter movement and other groups protesting racial injustice will be watching for a verdict. REUTERS/Jonathan Bachman

Source: Reuters 

MIGRANTS ON THE MEDITERRANEAN: As temperatures rise, the number of migrants making the dangerous crossing to Europe could increase again despite a record number of deaths of those traversing the Mediterranean in 2016. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis

Source: Reuters 

PIPELINE DREAMS AND NIGHTMARES: The success of the Standing Rock protesters to halt the Dakota Access pipeline has set a precedent for how environmental groups could disrupt planned pipeline projects. REUTERS/Stephanie Keith

Source: Reuters 

CLIMATE CHANGE DISCORD: Top scientists say Trump's vow to pull the United States out of the Paris climate-warming accord would make it far harder to develop strategies to lessen the impact of global warming. Though temperatures in 2017 are expected to dip from the record highs of 2016, how the world views climate change and what to do about it will remain a hot topic. REUTERS/Alister Doyle

Source: Reuters 

RIGHT-WING RISING: France's National Front leader Marine Le Pen will likely compete in a presidential run-off election in May that will test whether her brand of populism resonates in a nation that has been hit with attacks on Paris and Nice. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol

Source: Reuters 

RAQQA OFFENSIVE ESCALATES: An operation by a U.S.-backed alliance of Syrian armed groups' to retake the northern city of Raqqa, the de facto capital of Islamic State in Syria, looks set to continue in tandem with the offensive on the militant group's Iraq stronghold of Mosul. Trump's campaign promise of a secret plan to fight Islamic State will be forced into the spotlight. REUTERS/Rodi Said

Source: Reuters 

THE DOW'S CLIMB: U.S. stocks saw solid gains in 2016, buoyed by a post-election rally that fueled the Dow Jones Industrial Average to approach 20,000 points but whether the rally will contine in 2017 is up for debate. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Source: Reuters 

A NEW ARMS RACE: With both Putin and Trump planning to modernize their nation's nuclear arsenal, the prospect of a looming arms race is back on the table. When asked to clarify a tweet on nuclear capabilities, Trump said "Let it be an arms race. We will outmatch them at every pass and outlast them all." REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

Source: Reuters 

DROUGHT THREATENS FAMINE: Charities have repeatedly warned about the threat of renewed famine as Somalia continues to be plagued by poor rains and conflict, as well as shortages of aid. REUTERS/Feisal Omar

Source: Reuters 

TURKEY'S MEDIA CRACKDOWN: Turkey now imprisons more journalists than any other nation following a crackdown in the wake of the nation's coup attempt, according to the CPJ. The extent of the crackdown has worried rights groups and many of Turkey's Western allies, who fear President Erdogan is using the emergency rule to eradicate dissent. REUTERS/Murad Sezer

Source: Reuters 

SNAPCHAT DEBUT: Snapchat filed for an initial public offering in 2016 putting the messaging app a step closer to the biggest U.S. stock market debut since 2014. The Venice, California-based company could go public as soon as March and be valued at $20 billion to $25 billion, making it the largest IPO since Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Source: Reuters 

HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Within hours, unofficial "resistance" or "rogue" Twitter accounts began sprouting up, emblazoned with the government logos of the agencies where they worked, the list growing to at least 14 such sites by Wednesday afternoon.

An account dubbed @ungaggedEPA invited followers to visit its feeds of "ungagged news, links, tips and conversation that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is unable to tell you," adding that it was "Not directly affiliated with @EPA."

U.S. environmental employees were soon joined by similar "alternative" Twitter accounts originating from various science and health agencies, including the Food and Drug Administration, the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Weather Service. Many of their messages carried Twitter hashtags #resist or #resistance.

An unofficial Badlands National Park account called @BadHombreNPS also emerged (a reference to one of Trump's more memorable campaign remarks about Mexican immigrants) to post material that had been scrubbed from the official site earlier.

Because the Twitter feeds were set up and posted to anonymously as private accounts, they are beyond the control of the government.

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.

From Our Partners