Well, this is not the way to start a productive relationship.
The Interior Department abruptly shut down its Twitter account on Friday, after what some considered to be “unflattering” tweets were released, comparing the crowds from Barack Obama’s first inauguration to Donald Trump’s inauguration crowd.
There were actually two tweets, then the clamp down.
As of this morning, however, the account was reinstated, so apparently, the right people kissed and made up.
Thomas Crosson, a spokesman for the National Park Service, the Interior agency whose employee retweeted the offending tweets, said the action was “inconsistent with the agency’s approach to engaging the public through social media.”
“The Department of 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 said in an email.
“Now that social media guidance has been clarified, the Department and its bureaus should resume Twitter engagement as normal this weekend.” With one exception, Crosson said: No social media posts on the policy priorities of the new Interior secretary, because Trump nominee Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-Mont.) has not yet been confirmed.
That was the very diplomatic, efficient way of saying: Somebody screwed up.
Inauguration day at the Interior Department began with a retweet by a New York Times reporter of a tweet sent out by the official National Park Service account.
The tweet, from Binyamin Appelbaum read: “Looks like the Trump administration hasn’t taken control of the @NatlParkService Twitter feed just yet.”
Next came the internal memos. From the Washington Post:
“All bureaus and the department have been directed by incoming administration to shut down Twitter platforms immediately until further notice,” said an email circulated to thousands of Interior employees.
The email, obtained by The Post, described the stand-down as an “urgent directive” and said social media managers must shut down the accounts “until further directed.”
Then there was a second tweet, pointing out that climate change, LGBT rights, and healthcare issues had been stricken from the White House’s official site, as was covered over at The Resurgent, on Friday.
A government official familiar with the stand-down said the agency needed to investigate whether the retweets were purposeful, “errant” or “whether we’ve been hacked.”
A retweet is a sharing of another person’s tweet. Seen straightforwardly, it’s a way to share an interesting piece of information. In the government’s case, the agency doing the retweeting must have a policy that agrees with the information.
Crosson declined to say if the Park Service employee had been identified. But the offending shares from @NatlParkService were removed from the agency’s Twitter feed.
Crosson said that it is against Park Service policy to estimate the size of crowds at events, because they are often inaccurate.
So was this a case of a rogue employee?
It’s hard to say, but it’s a problem they may feel has been resolved, at this point, and everyone seems to be willing to write it off as startup glitches with a new administration.