The Interior Department was ordered on Friday to shut down its official Twitter accounts indefinitely after the National Park Service shared tweets showing a relatively small crowd during President Donald Trumps inauguration, media reports said.
In one tweet, the NPS noted the small inaugural crowd on Friday compared to the number of people who gathered during former President Barack Obama’s inauguration in 2009. Another tweet noted several omissions of policy areas on the new White House website under Trump. A Park Service employee retweeted both missives on Friday.
The tweets were widely circulated online, The Washington Post said.
“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 Park Service employees on Friday afternoon.
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.”
Interior has dozens of official Twitter accounts at its multiple offices and 10 bureaus, which include the Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Geological Survey.
As Trump’s inauguration ceremony got underway Friday, a Park Service employee involved in social media officially retweeted a tweet from New York Times reporter Binyamin Appelbaum (@BCAppelbaum) that pictured the crowd at Obama’s inauguration next to Friday’s gathering on the Mall.
“Compare the crowds: 2009 inauguration at left, 2017 inauguration at right,” Appelbaum wrote. The Park Service Twitter account then shared a second tweet from someone else with a message about climate change, civil rights and healthcare issues being removed from the Obama White House website.
A government official familiar with the stand-down said the agency is investigating whether the retweets were purposeful, “errant” or “whether we’ve been hacked”, said The Post.