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National Weather Service has an ‘alt’ Twitter, and it already has over 71,000 followers

An image of the alt-NWS Twitter account, which uses one of the first GOES-16 images as a background. (Twitter)

Dozens of alternative, unauthorized government accounts have sprung up on Twitter in the past week, since the Badlands National Park Service went “went rogue” and tweeted (gasp) facts about greenhouse gases and climate change. Those tweets by a former employee who still had access to the account were deleted, but the alt-Twitter movement had already left the station.

An alternative to the National Weather Service, @AlternativeNWS, was created Wednesday and has already acquired more than 71,000 followers. Its first tweet was a recommendation that people download as much of (a NOAA-run website) as possible before it is removed by the Trump administration.

Rogue Twitter accounts spring up to fight Donald Trump on climate change

Since then, the account operators — which is made up of actual NWS employees, according to the bio — have used the platform to share sentiments that they are otherwise prohibited from sharing in their official capacities. Many of them have been fired off directly at President Trump.

Others have expressed the concern shared among many NWS employees over one of the names supposedly on the shortlist for National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration director: Barry Myers, the chief executive of AccuWeather, an ostensible competitor of NWS itself.

Beyond the worry over who the next administrator will be, the alt-NWS account has expressed concern about the muzzling of climate scientists. The Capital Weather Gang’s Jason Samenow summarized the concern last week:

During the George W. Bush administration, some climate scientists at NOAA said political appointees blocked their efforts to openly communicate their findings about the human role in climate change. Because Trump and several of his Cabinet picks have expressed uncertainty about these human contributions, there’s a concern that history will repeat itself.

But there’s plenty of reason to think that Wilbur Ross, Trump’s pick for commerce secretary “has no valid reason” to silence scientists:

Sen. Bill Nelson (Fla.), the ranking Democrat on the Senate Commerce Committee, sent a letter to Ross last week asking him what he would do “to ensure expert scientists at NOAA are protected from political interference like censorship and intimidation.”
Ross responded Monday that his department would provide the public “with as much factual and accurate data as we have available,” noting such information is made possible by taxpayers. “I see no valid reason to keep peer-reviewed research from the public,” he said.

One potential problem is the use of the NWS logo. In the past, the agency has gone to Twitter to request disabling unauthorized accounts that use the copyrighted logo.

Do you run this account? Let’s talk.