World & Nation

Federal Web presence curtailed by government shutdown

WASHINGTON -- Social media users browsing their Twitter feeds Tuesday hoping to see a new space photo from NASA or learn American history facts from the U.S. Capitol account were instead met with blunt messages and apologies.

“Sorry, but we won’t be tweeting/responding to replies during the government shutdown,” the NASA account read. “Be back as soon as possible.”

As government agencies carried out their shutdown plans early Tuesday, sending about 800,000 federal workers home without pay, they also put on hold operations that were practically irrelevant 17 years ago during the last lapse in funding: their Web presences.

The first 21st century shutdown has spawned Web page disclaimers and Twitter hiatuses for accounts that give insight into government agencies in 140 or fewer characters.


FULL COVERAGE: The U.S. government shutdown

Even the secretary of Labor, Thomas E. Perez, announced on Twitter that he would not be using the social media site during the shutdown.

Visitors to were greeted Tuesday with a notice that information on the site might not be up to date. “Some submissions may not be processed,” it read, “and we may not be able to respond to your inquiries.”

The National Park Service has closed its 401 parks and monuments, as well as its Web pages, where curious travelers can normally research their next destinations and view park alerts. After a short note, redirects to the Interior Department’s website. The home page for the Library of Congress also was nearly blank, and only its legislative information websites were accessible.


People looking to do research on the Census Bureau’s website were also stopped short of their goals: “Due to the lapse in government funding, sites, services, and all online survey collection requests will be unavailable until further notice,” it read.

Other websites, such as the Smithsonian’s, were still operating but donned an alert that all museums and the National Zoo were closed. A popular feature on the zoo’s website, its live animal cameras, showed an error message in place of video of the zoo’s baby giant panda.

“The cams require federal resources, primarily staff, to run and broadcast,” a message on the site read. “They’ve been deemed non-essential during the shutdown.”

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