Wednesday, February 1, 2017

What "alternative" twitter accounts mean in today's democracy

         In January of 2014, Donald Trump questioned people’s belief in climate change, or as he called it “the GLOBAL WARMING HOAX”. Since then, he has not gotten along much better with the scientific community.            
Very soon after he took office, President Trump issued a gag order that prevented many federal agencies from talking with the public. This included communicating through social media sites, such as twitter.          
 Limiting executive agencies' ability to communicate with the public is problematic for a number of reasons. The Environmental Protection Agency has a lot of responsibility in today’s age as climate change worsens and it is important they are able to communicate with the public about that. It also appears quite suspicious that they are being prevented from talking to people, like the administration does not want them saying certain things.           
Soon after that gag order was issued, “alternative” and “rogue” twitter accounts began popping up, that claim to be unofficial accounts of national parks, federal agencies, and other government departments. They have tweeted facts about climate change, bills going through Congress, and encouraging resistance and action.            
Using twitter is an interesting platform to communicate with Americans about scientific issues. Of course, it is also the natural choice. While facebook and Instagram are also popular social media sites, those tend to be used in a much more private and personal way. Twitter, on the other hand, besides being Donald Trump’s favorite mode of communication, has a format that encourages strangers to communicate.            
Twitter’s character limit forces complex, scientific issues to be shortened into bite-size chunks. The short and simple messages are very shareable and allow people to easily understand them and solidify their resistance to the current administration and their policies.
            Due to the tweets’ short length, many of these accounts tweet multiple times a day, which allows for frequent enhancement and reinforcement of the message they are trying to send.           These tweets provide solidarity and encouragement to those who agree with them. It is very likely that the vast majority of people seeing these tweets agree with them and so the amount of dialogue that these tweets is causing is likely very little. 
          It is interesting how they are taking a social media platform that Donald Trump is known for using, and using it to go against him. 
         These twitter accounts allow for conversations about important scientific issues to continue happening, even when, and especially when, the president tries to prevent them from happening. Living in this modern age allows for such technologies to unite people from all over the country and the world and who disagree with what is happening. They can have a real power to bring that solidarity in the resistance, which could be very important over these next four years

(If you want to look at Donald Trump's tweets about climate change and not scroll through years' worth of tweets:

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