President Trump apparently meant his statement about being in a running battle with the press the other day at the CIA. The EPA and apparently also the Dept. of Agriculture have reportedly been gagged. This follows the temporary ban imposed on the Park Service when someone with access to the agency account retweeted factual information about Inaugural Day crowds.

But is this really censorship or just a rocky beginning? The National Park Service is now back on Twitter and apologizes for an out of policy re-tweet showing inauguration day crowd sizes.

Trump bans EPA social media

But while the notorious Badlands Park account hack and removal of accurate but unofficial tweets (report below) was innocuous and was apparently just a routine procedure by the responsible authorities at the Park, the White House has told Environmental Protection Agency employees that they are not to disseminate any reports on social media until further notice, according to both Fox News and The Boston Globe.

In addition, the same message may have been sent to Department of Agriculture employees - that they are not to disseminate any updates on research or anything else either to the press or on social media.

According to the email memo obtained by CBS News and posted on their website, the trump Administration has also apparently frozen all EPA funds for scientific research, monitoring, or publications.

Here are excerpts from the email as published by CBS.

“From: Amorosi, Joanne

Sent: Monday, January 23, 2017, 11:13 AM

To: OARM Directors

Subject: Important Guidance on Agency Communications - Effective Immediately I just returned from a briefing for Communication Directors where the following information was provided.”

(Summary) No press releases, no tweets/social media messages, and no blog postings will be sent.

Control over accounts may “become more centrally controlled.” Media requests will be carefully screened, no content will be added to any website and be sure messages don’t “end up in the press.”

This reporter checked the EPA website and there is a Joanne Amorosi, OARM Communications Director. Phone: (202) 564-4xxx listed. I was unable to confirm more directly because the offices were closed at night and, according to the memo no response would be forthcoming anyway.

National Park Service

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the NPS released a statement clarifying the Agency’s position on tweeting policy and emphasised that one of the concerns was simply that the NPS currently had no director since President Trump’s “nominee Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-Mont.) has not yet been confirmed.”

While censorship is always to be opposed by responsible journalists, unlike banning scientific communications from the EPA, it seems reasonable for an agency such as the NPS to restrict public comments until the new head of the agency is in place and establishes a policy.

Badlands done bad

There were (false) reports on Twitter and some Trump bashing that the White House instructed the Badlands National Park to remove their twitter posting of scientific data about CO2 levels.

The @BadlandsNPS account posted "The pre-industrial concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was 280 parts per million (ppm). As of December 2016, 404.93 ppm." Other relatively accurate tweets followed but they had nothing to do with Badlands Park’s work and they were removed quickly because they were not “official” Park tweets. CBS News and Buzzfeed reported that the account had apparently been compromised

A spokesperson for the Park Service announced that they were not instructed to take down the messages.

This compromise of a government agency twitter account should make it clear President Trump is taking a big risk even having an active twitter account - someone who takes over the account for even a few minutes could cause great damage if citizens or worse yet, a foreign power took a false tweet as representing a true message from President Trump.