When being a team-player at work meant lying to the American people, brave civil servants took to social media to share the inside scoop. Government employees expect some changes with each new election, but adjusting to the Trump administration was different. The new president was banning Muslim immigrants, repealing Net Neutrality and deleting climate change information from EPA websites. It became urgent to take a stand. The #ALTGOV Twitter movement subverted official statements to remind the American public that all was not well in the White House but that there was something they could do about it. This is the story of how the same social media technologies that fractured America have helped rogue government workers and concerned citizens work to keep it together. Beginning with tweets from the parks about the Inauguration Day crowd, the #AltGov Twitter accounts offered followers context, truth, and opportunities to take real-world action to support human rights, privacy rights, and science. Followers say they offer hope. They've also faced challenges from their bosses in the government, from trolls and bots, and from each other. Amanda Sturgill offers the first real look at this grassroots movement, including exclusive interviews with #AltGov members as they struggled to work with others who had a spectrum of goals and motivations. They faced their own fears of being discovered or even inadvertently causing the harm they were trying to forestall. The #AltGov movement shows us that social media is more than a megaphone--it's a way for everyday people to live out the democratic ideals that shaped their country.
About the Author
Amanda Sturgill is a professor at Elon University, where she teaches courses in journalism, media analytics, and digital strategy. She has built a 20-plus year career studying the ways people communicate online, including how breaking news is covered on Twitter, how people learn from digital media, how media work and don't work for poor people and those with disabilities, and how people form online communities around their interests. Her research and teaching have been featured on CBC Radio, KABC Radio, and in The Washington Post.