Think back to Donald Trump’s inauguration. (Feels like a long time, no? It has been approximately 105 days.) Remember that fun, brief moment when someone behind the Twitter account for the National Park Service retweeted a side-by-side photo comparing crowds at Obama’s inauguration in 2009 and Trump’s in 2017. The former, obviously, visibly outnumbering the latter. The account also retweeted a tweet featuring a story about how the Trump administration, within hours of taking control, had already wiped LGBTQ, climate change, and civil-rights pages from the government’s website.
The tweets didn’t last long. Shortly after, news broke that the National Park Service’s support office had received instructions “to immediately cease use of government Twitter accounts until further notice.” Despite insistence from Sean Spicer that the White House had not requested the tweets be removed, nor that the accounts be temporarily suspended, new details released by the Park Service via the Freedom of Information Act show otherwise. “Obviously, this has become a very sensitive issue, especially since the President has gotten directly involved and contacted Acting Director Mike Reynolds concerned about one of the images that was retweeted,” Tim Cash, chief of digital strategy at the National Park Service, wrote to Shaun Cavanaugh, NPS’s chief information-security officer, in an email the day after the inauguration.
The Trump administration, CBS News reports, traced the IP address of the tweets to a device in San Bruno, California. From there, they “checked all possible NPS social media points of contacts in that area,” according to a briefing. While there was initial thought that the tweets had come from somebody who meant to tweet from their personal account — an easy enough mistake that might have led Melania Trump, or “Melania Trump,” to fave a tweet about hating her husband — this theory was later discredited. Which means, unlike the time Trump apologized for an intern who “accidentally did a Retweet,” the rogue National Park tweeter, whoever they may be, definitely meant to send those tweets.