FAQ: Why is there a spoof Twitter account for the Gateway Arch? | St. Louis Public Radio

FAQ: Why is there a spoof Twitter account for the Gateway Arch?

Jan 27, 2017

The Trump administration's very public conflicts with government agencies continues on Twitter during the first week of Donald Trump's presidency.

This time around, in response to a gag order barring public-facing communications by several departments, Twitter users are creating spoof accounts and getting embroiled in the dissemination of facts. Here in St. Louis, a spoof Gateway Arch account popped up on Wednesday.

St. Louis Public Radio's social media and engagement producer breaks down how to determine whether or not an account is verified — plus a few more Twitter related questions. 

What is the difference between @GatewayArchNPS and @GatewayArch_NPS?

@GatewayArchNPS claims to be the official account of the National Parks Service's (NPS) Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, which is the full name of the Gateway Arch and the grounds that surround it. However, the account isn’t actually verified as an authentic account.

@GatewayArch_NPS is definitely a spoof account — note the underscore. The account owner also tweeted this: “This account isn't run by scientists or federal employees.”

Take a look at tweets from the spoof account here:

The fact that neither account is official hasn’t stopped people from responding with both praise and detractions as if they’re directly tweeting a Gateway Arch official.

Why are people creating spoof accounts for National Parks?

If we go back ages in Internet years, to this past Inauguration weekend, the Trump administration ordered the National Parks Service to stop tweeting from its main account. This came on the heels of a retweet of photos comparing the Obama and Trump inauguration crowds on the National Mall. The NPS apologized for the retweets.

Despite the tweeting ban, a former NPS employee at Badlands National Park allegedly began tweeting facts about climate change from @BadlandsNPS. This move, characterized by many media outlets as “going rogue,” has sparked a number of alternative and spoof accounts acting in defense of several government agencies that are under a gag order issued by the Trump administration. That order was issued in an internal email and included the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Health and Human services and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Is @GatewayArch_NPS a fake or bogus account?

The source isn’t authentic, but the sentiments and tweets are real in expressing political views that aren't usually part of the National Park Service's tweets. In the case of the Gateway Arch's official National Parks Service, the account is used for standard customer service, park information and photos showcasing the land, not political statements.

Where do I find real Gateway Arch information?

The Twitter account that the National Park Service officially links to on its website is @GatewayArchSTL. How do you know it’s real? Well, it doesn’t have the blue verified badge, but unless the NPS website’s been hacked, you can be fairly certain that you’re reaching the real Gateway Arch Twitter account.