Agencies Become Anti-Social Amid Shutdown

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The Transportation Security Agency will still answer weird travel questions on Twitter though.

Social media has made it easier than ever for agencies to connect with citizens, but the federal shutdown forced many of the government’s biggest accounts to go silent.

With the shutdown rolling into its third day, many of the people who run agency websites and social media pages are out of the office. As a result, some of the government’s most followed Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts won’t be posting until Congress can pass a budget.

Many agencies’ announced Monday they would not post or reply to comments on social media during the shutdown.

Among the shuttered pages are popular Instagram accounts for the Transportation Security Administration and NASA, which has more followers than Lady Gaga, Leonardo DiCaprio and the NBA.

The National Park Service’s widely followed Instagram account is also out of operation, along with the NPS, TSA and NASA pages on Facebook and Twitter.

But the shutdown cuts people off from much more than stunning shots from space and beautiful views of national parks. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration can’t provide web updates on weather emergencies, and Education Department’s Federal Student Aid office can’t answer applicants’ online questions.

Many agencies, including the National Security Agency and the Homeland Security and State departments, won’t be updating their websites during the shutdown.

Still, a number of critical operations remain active even as government operations grind to a halt. The National Weather Service is still regularly posting updates and students filing the FAFSA can still phone in questions to the Education Department’s call center.

Travelers can also continue getting questions answered by actual TSA agents through the AskTSA pages on Facebook and Twitter, and apply for passports through the State Department.

Meanwhile, a few government organizations are managing to stay fully active during the lapse in funding. Because it doesn’t rely on taxpayer money, the U.S. Postal Service remains unaffected by the shutdown, and the Smithsonian Institution is using prior year funds to keep its doors open.