Generally, the posts of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) at Twitter are open for replies. But, that is not the case for NASA’s June 2 tweet regarding “Pride Month.”
When the United States government agency shares an impressive photograph or video, such as video of a spacewalk in a June 9 tweet, the ability of Twitter users to post replies below the tweet is left open. As would be expected, most of the 150 replies as of June 12 to that spacewalk tweet are positive. Score for NASA public relations.
Compare this with a tweet from NASA a week earlier — on June 2 — regarding “Pride Month.” Above a photo of the “Progress Pride Flag” flying alongside the flags of the US and, it appears, NASA, that tweet states:
There’s space for everyone this #PrideMonth, and we’re celebrating the LGBTQI+ employees who help us reach for the stars, examine humanity’s place in the universe, and study our home planet: go.nasa.gov/3C9ncnU
The only reply to this tweet is from NASA itself on the same day. That reply states:
The diversity of our NASA team is what brings different perspectives to our missions, and we celebrate and share their stories. To protect our people from personal attacks, we have decided to limit comments on this post.
Replies to this second June 2 tweet are also barred.
Hmmm. What’s the deal with a US government agency selectively blocking the public from commenting on its actions because those comments may be harsh or critical? Shouldn’t free speech be valued and respected by the US government? Isn’t a government trying to silence speech critical of itself and its agents incompatible with respect for liberty?
This restriction on replies to both June 2 tweets goes hand in hand with the unprecedent effort to shield Joe Biden, the current boss the US executive branch, from situations in which he can face pushback and tough questioning, including via limiting access of reporters.
Industrious Twitter users have found a way to register their reactions to the NASA tweets from June 2 in a different manner. As of June 12, there have been 222 quote tweets of the original NASA Pride Month tweet and 84 quote tweets of NASA’s reply tweet in which it declared replies are blocked. Quote tweets involve Twitter users retweeting the original tweets along with comments. Looking through these quote tweets, many of the comments Twitter users have appended are negative.
The people’s voices are managing to be heard. But, isn’t it a shame that the US government is seeking to stamp out the criticism? The US government and its various agencies should not be selectively intervening to prevent free and open debate.