Trump administration orders social media blackout at EPA, USDA

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump banned employees of the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Tuesday from providing social media updates and talking with reporters, The Associated Press reported.

Emails that have been sent to EPA staff since Trump was inaugurated on Friday give specific prohibitions that ban news releases, blog updates and posts on the agency’s social media accounts.

There has also been a “temporary suspension” of new business activities at the EPA. That includes issuing task orders or work assignments to EPA contractors, the AP reported.

BuzzFeed reported the USDA instituted a similar ban, with employees not allowed to distribute information about research papers or to post on Twitter under the agency’s name.

A memo at the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service said said the agency would immediately cease releasing any “public-facing” documents.

“This includes, but is not limited to, news releases, photos, fact sheets, news feeds, and social media content,” according to the memo.

The Huffington Post said employees under the Department of Health and Human Services were also told not to speak to public officials.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer said it was natural for a new administration to reconsider agency operations.

“I don’t think it’s anything surprise that when there’s an administration turnover, that we’re going to review the policy,” Spicer said.