WASHINGTON, D.C. – While Donald Trump has been busy on his personal Twitter account since taking office, many federal government departments have significantly curtailed daily tweets since Inauguration Day.
The Department of Education and EPA Water accounts took two of the biggest hits, with both tweeting at less than half their normal rates. A number of accounts also are tweeting almost negligible numbers, with two tweeting less than 10 times in the past 40 days.
Education had the biggest drop, with a decline in tweets of 77 percent. The EPA Water account went down 66 percent; the Government Services Administration account, 51 percent; and the Office of Personnel Management, 49 percent.
Between Inauguration Day and March 4, the Government Services Administration tweeted only five times, and the EPA Water Twitter account nine times.
Twitter activity on the 23 government department and agency accounts DecodeDC measured decreased by 24 percent overall between Inauguration Day and March 4. Sixteen of the departments and agencies had significant decreases overall of 47 percent.
There are a handful of accounts that have increased tweeting. Most notably, the Department of Transportation had the biggest surge, up 72 percent, followed by the Government Accountability Office, up 24 percent. The two increases are notable considering President Trump’s promises to increase infrastructure spending on roads and highways and the GAO’s mandate to investigate and research topics requested by Congress.
It’s unclear if the drop in tweeting at so many departments and agencies is a result of a change in department social media policy, the result of changing hires for social media positions between administrations, thanks to Trump’s executive order freezing new government hires, or part of a “gag order” placed on some government departments. A spokesperson for OPM said the drop in tweets following the Inauguration is to be expected during a transition year.
The Department of Education and EPA did not respond to requests for comment.
The drop in frequency comes at the heels of an order from the Trump administration for certain Twitter accounts to halt tweets for a period following inauguration weekend. The National Park Service and the Department of the Interior accounts caught the ire of the Trump White House on Inauguration Day. A retweet from the NPS account, which compared Trump’s inauguration crowd size to President Obama’s 2009 crowd caused Trump officials to order a halt of tweets from the account. Tweets from Interior were shut down for a similar incident, too.
In another instance, a former employee with the Badlands National Park Service used his old credentials to tweet from the service’s official account about global warming.
The White House gag order caused employees from many of the departments to lash out by creating their own “alternative” or rogue Twitter accounts. One of them was created by employees for the National Park Service called @AltUSNatParkService. It was later reportedly given over to a Trump resistance movement and the name was changed to Not Alt World.