“Join the Resistance.”
That’s one of the first messages on a newly created Twitter account that says it’s trying to protect the scientific integrity of the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The AltCDC account – like its counterparts set up for other federal agencies that deal with scientific matters – is a reaction to moves by the Trump administration to prevent federal scientists from sharing data with the press and the public.
Pres. Donald Trump’s administration moved quickly this week to shore up its control over communications with the public and the press, as officials at the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Agriculture e-mailed staff to inform them that they may no longer discuss agency research or departmental restrictions with anyone outside of the agency—including news media. Both agencies also told their scientists and other staff that press releases and external communications about taxpayer-funded work would stop until further notice. It remains unclear if these will be temporary or long-term policies.
Nothing on the AltCDC page identifies who is behind the account. The account profile, alongside a photo of the Greek letter omega, asks for direct messages “if you are a scientist willing to use this account to fight against political interference in science.”
The account’s ethos is represented in several hashtags: #FactsMatter, #FactsNotFear and #SolidarityinScience.
So far, AltCDC has not exposed any suppression of scientific inquiry at the agency. However, a sense of anxiety pervades.
AltCDC retweeted a message by a Canadian doctor and drug researcher who recalled that President Donald Trump has expressed the belief – widely discredited – that childhood vaccines can cause autism and other disabilities. Trump has met with anti-vaccine activists since winning the election.
“The mere existence of a ‘Vaccine Review Committee’ would represent a serious threat to global public health,” AltCDC tweeted.
The Twitter feed also includes messages from other alternatives to official federal accounts, including one dedicated to the National Institutes of Health. Its Tweet referred to the new administration's defense of false statements.
"'Alternative Medicine,'" it says, "is kinda based on 'Alternative Facts.'"
Meanwhile, the resistance continues.