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.
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.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 – The Transition
Chapter 2 – First Day Promises
Chapter 3 – Finding Each Other
Chapter 4 – Threats
Chapter 5 – Strategy
Chapter 6 – Storms
Chapter 7 – Where are the Children
Chapter 8 – Finding Fakes
Chapter 9 – Making a Difference
Chapter 10 – War Room
Chapter 11 – National Security
Chapter 12 – Pandemic
Chapter 13 – Who Are We?
Chapter 14 – Election and Insurrection
Chapter 15 – Transitions, Again
Sturgill capably weaves together interviews with a number of federal bureaucrats who participated in the #ALTGOV movement and current events to create a gripping narrative. The work fleshes out anonymous Twitter accounts into full personas with individual reasons for joining the movement. Using the bureaucrats' own words, Sturgill dismisses the claim that the #ALTGOV movement consisted only of political opponents of the Trump administration. Undergraduates will digest this book easily and gain an appreciation for this unique time in American politics, and scholars will find Sturgill's research foundational for further studies of protest activities by government officials, both in the US and abroad. This book is relevant to the disciplines of political science, political communication, mass communication, and public administration and fits well into courses on American politics, bureaucracy, and political movements. Recommended. All readership levels.
This fascinating work delves into the activities of the alts and the rogues that made up so much of the online political world in the early days of the Trump administration. It offers fresh insights into the confusion and chaos of 2016 through 2021 using primary sources in a compelling way I have never seen before.
Always wanted to know who's behind the #AltGov Twitter movement? This is your chance to see four years of American history unfold through their eyes. Learn how #AltGov’s digital army tried to make a difference and fought to defend democracy in the way they knew best: tweet by tweet.
2/23/23, Choice Reviews: This book was highlighted as a top community college title.