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AltGov

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The #AltGov Resistance Movement[edit | edit source]

AltGov is a loose alliance of anonymous individuals and groups who interact to use social media to communicate information related to U.S. public policy and for other purposes, including criticism of government actions and leadership. They have a primary public face on Twitter, although there is also some activity on Medium, on Git and in other media. The accounts belonging to the #AltGov position themselves as anonymous voices providing information and context on national policy, particularly information that known public employees are embargoed from sharing. The anonymity is controversial, and several sources have noted that it is not possible for the public to verify the creators and information because the source is unknown.[1][2]

In an effort to demonstrate credibility, the group has worked with fact-checking website Snopes https://www.snopes.com , which writes

“What has come to be called the #AltGov community (who represent areas of government) and #AltFam (who support them) on Twitter includes many members. Some members work with, or within, the government; some work in the fields they represent on Twitter and convey information to and from entities that would otherwise be gagged; still others are part of a trusted support network who do not claim to represent any particular part of the federal government, with the stated goal of disseminating accurate information.”[3] .

Accounts use #AltGov and #WeAreAltGov hashtags for group identification on Twitter, and most accounts feature personas representative of sectors of the government. Mt. Holyoke College library maintains a list of AltGov Twitter feeds,[4] noting that readers need to critically evaluate information they read.

History[edit | edit source]

The beginning of the #AltGov can be traced to tweets from accounts affiliated with U.S. national parks immediately following the inauguration of Donald J. Trump as the 45th president in 2017. Immediately following the inauguration, accounts linked with the National Park Service in general and Badlands National Park in particular posted information on climate change and the removal of information from government websites. This led to an official temporary suspension of posting on those government social media accounts[5]. Shortly after, several accounts stating that they were unofficial accounts by government employees were created in a relatively short period of time.[6][7]

Since the beginning, the accounts have struggled with creating sufficient identity to be credible[8] while maintaining anonymity that account posters say they feel is needed for protecting their employment and maintaining personal safety.[9] In March, 2017, the U.S. Government used a subpoena to Twitter asking for the identity of the @ALT_USCIS account. Twitter sued the government to protect the identity and dropped the suit when the government withdrew the summons.[10]

Organization and Structure[edit | edit source]

Some Alt Gov accounts are run by individuals, and others are run by groups. All make efforts to conceal identities, as loss of employment and online and potentially in-person attacks are persistent concerns. Members are not known by real identities, even to each other, with core members accepting verification of identify and intent from a third party.[11]

The Alt Gov structure is loosely coupled, with individual accounts free to plan and carry out their own actions. The accounts do coordinate in private forums at times on timing of messages or on issues of concern. Each individual account also monitors the accounts of the others for re-sharing and commentary.[9]

Activities[edit | edit source]

Although the Alt Gov has a primary public face on Twitter, the group is linked with a combination of online and offline activities..

Online activities:[edit | edit source]

AltGov members are primarily identified by Twitter handles, and the accounts are active participants on Twitter.

AltGov accounts have several different types of posts. Some provide factual information about internal workings of government agencies to give context to how government decisions are being made. Some correct what they see as misinformation from official sources, the media or other posters. Some posts are for sharing and boosting information, primarily about government policies and action.[12] Some posts link to or reshare comments from other AltGov accounts and other activists. One research study found that AltGov accounts were more likely to be interactive, whereas official government agency accounts mostly offered one-way communication.[13]

Offline activities:[edit | edit source]

AltGov accounts, as individuals and through the accounts, participate a variety of activism and community service activities. For example:

  • An account affiliated with NASA promotes merchandise sales[14] that have been used to provide Space Camp through a program with The Mars Generation.[15]
  • Persons involved with AltGov accounts in collaboration with a large international team of volunteers created and ran CrowdRescueHQ,[16] which developed infrastructure for and staffed a tracking and dispatch operation for emergency services for persons trapped during hurricanes in the fall of 2017,[17] ultimately working with a team of more than 700 to complete more than 6,000 emergency rescues.

References[edit | edit source]

This article "AltGov" is from Wikipedia. The list of its authors can be seen in its historical and/or the page Edithistory:AltGov. Articles copied from Draft Namespace on Wikipedia could be seen on the Draft Namespace of Wikipedia and not main one.

  1. "'Rogue' Government Twitter Accounts Should Verify Themselves". Motherboard. 2017-01-26. Retrieved 2018-05-29.
  2. "It's Not Just The Park Service: 'Rogue' Federal Twitter Accounts Multiply". NPR.org. Retrieved 2018-05-29.
  3. "Twitter's Alts and Rogues". Snopes.com. Retrieved 2018-05-28.
  4. Lindahl, Chrissa. "LibGuides: Trump Presidency: Election, Transition, and Administration: Media and Social Media". guides.mtholyoke.edu. Retrieved 2018-05-31.
  5. Rein, Lisa (2017-01-21). "Interior Department reactivates Twitter accounts after shutdown following inauguration". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2018-05-28.
  6. "Rogue National Park Accounts Emerge On Twitter Amid Social Media Gag Orders". NPR.org. Retrieved 2018-05-28.
  7. "Rogue tweets: A guide to 'alt' (fake) government Twitter accounts in the Trump era". azcentral. Retrieved 2018-05-29.
  8. "Rogue National Park Service Twitter account says it's no longer run by government employees…but maybe it never was – TechCrunch". techcrunch.com. Retrieved 2018-05-28.
  9. 9.0 9.1 "How Twitter became an outlet of resistance, information for federal employees". FederalNewsRadio.com. 2017-02-21. Retrieved 2018-05-29.
  10. "Twitter Crushes DHS in Anti-Trump Unmasking Lawsuit". www.lexisnexis.com. Retrieved 2018-05-28.
  11. "Twitter's Alts and Rogues". Snopes.com. Retrieved 2018-05-28.
  12. http://www.washingtontimes.com, The Washington Times. "Rogue Twitter accounts form resistance against Trump, fuel rebellion against policies". The Washington Times. Retrieved 2018-05-28.
  13. Scott, Drew. (2018) Using analytics to assess the AltGov vs. official government accounts on Twitter. Presented April 8, 2018 at the research symposium of the Broadcast Education Association annual meeting in Las Vegas.
  14. "RogueNASA Hoodies and Tees- in time for X-mas! | Nakatomi, Inc". www.nakatomiinc.com. Retrieved 2018-05-28.
  15. "The Mars Generation 2018 Space Camp Scholarship Winners Announced | The Mars Generation®". The Mars Generation®. 2018-04-10. Retrieved 2018-05-28.
  16. News, Breitbart (2017-09-10). "IrmaSOS: Emergency Response on Social Media". Breitbart. Retrieved 2018-05-28.
  17. "'Alt-gov' Twitter accounts pitch in to help Coast Guard and responders rescue hurricane victims". Raw Story. 2017-08-29. Retrieved 2018-05-28.

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