Why we're still following these "alt" government Twitter accounts
It started with the National Park Service and its supposed Twitter ban. Under the new administration, issues like climate change, LGBTQ rights, and others were under scrutiny. In some cases, all of that information simply disappeared.
But now a series of “resistance” social media accounts, mostly on Twitter, have rallied to preserve their data and public trust.
The biggest one of these is the former “Alt National Parks Service,” which now calls itself NOT ALT WORLD, a general resource against #AltFacts. (A reference to one Kellyanne Conway, speaking about something one might call a lie.) The NOT ALT WORLD account has over a million followers; the verified National Parks Service Twitter has 415,000.
Billing themselves with names like “Alt,” “Rogue,” and “Resistance,” these accounts are popping up for every branch of government: From the Department of Energy to NASA to the Centers of Disease Control. But as we strive to separate real from fake news, NPR makes the good point that we should apply that same skepticism even for causes with whom we do align.
When journalists called for the former Alt. NPS service to identify itself/verify its creators through Twitter, those admins were necessarily cautious. On the one hand, if these are government employees making their last social media stand, that information puts them at risk for who knows what anymore, really. On the other hand, it’s pretty unlikely that all of these accounts are actually run by people with the authority they’re taking for themselves.
But there is a middle ground here; if you can accept these accounts’ many calls to action to save and preserve scientific knowledge, rather than direct sources of resistance themselves, then at least you’re spurred to action. And there is some solace knowing that so many people are now drawn to science, even if it’s in a “Yeah science!” way rather than, say, creating experiments and funding scientific research.
We’re still early on in the presidency, so we’ll enjoy these alt accounts and the public interest they’ve revived for only so long. At least some verified National Park Service accounts are still speaking their minds: