What started as a gritty protest by a former Badlands National Park Service employee who wanted to give US President Donald Trump a piece of his mind has snowballed.
It is now a Twitter movement in support of climate change research.
An anonymous group of people who claim to be National Park Service employees created an account using the agency's official arrowhead logo as an avatar and unleashed on the Trump Administration for muzzling federal workers, particularly those at the Environmental Protection Agency who have been barred from speaking to the press and public through social media.
The Washington Post contacted the group via Twitter, without much success. "We will not be identifying ourselves due to the anger and threats coming from President Trump's loyalists," came an anonymous reply. "We are just here to push the science that is being dismantled by the current Administration."
Like the Badlands tweeter, who amassed more than 60,000 followers in a day, @AltUSNatParkService became a sensation. It had 614,000 followers.
The National Park Service explained that officials at Badlands rooted out an ex-employee who still had access to its Twitter account and shut down his tweets. But @AltUSNatParkService soon picked up where he left off, rapidly spitting climate change facts with the forcefulness of rappers such as Kendrick Lamar.
The tweets were factual jabs at the Trump Administration, which sent marching orders to the EPA, National Park Service and the Forest Service under the Department of Agriculture to stop disseminating climate facts, decline calls from reporters and drop scheduled meetings with media.
The Administration's stance toward the science may have had such a chilling effect that the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention voluntarily cancelled a climate change meeting.
Other protest accounts sprouted. There is @AltUSNationalParkService, a slight variation. Also, @AltNatParkService, @AltParkService, @AltNatParkSer and @AltUSEPA.
Jenna Ruddick of Washington owns one, US Science Service, or @natlsciservice. It started, the 26-year-old journalist and documentary filmmaker said, with a call from a colleague. "Wouldn't it be great if people started making rogue Twitter accounts to publicise science being done by agencies that are currently under media blackout?"
Her answer was, "Yeah . . . great."
"The major impact [of these rogue accounts] is that people are taking note, and it's raising red flags all over the place," Ruddick said. "One of the riskiest things would be for censorship, whether it's of journalists or of scientific institutions, to go unnoticed. Censorship is a very slippery slope."
Can't wait for President Trump to call us FAKE NEWS.
You can take our official twitter, but you'll never take our free time!— AltUSNatParkService (@AltNatParkSer) January 25, 2017
Badlands had people up in arms over threats to the Park Service, she said, "but there are also other government institutions that would be at risk and I wanted to be able to highlight the great science being done by all of our government agencies."
The @AltUSNatParkService proclaimed solidarity with the EPA and used its account to promote another cause, a proposed march in Washington led by scientists.