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Silencing Science: Attempts to Curb Federal Employees' Communication With the Public

In January, officials at the EPA and the USDA received memos barring them from releasing information to the public or using their social media accounts to disperse factual knowledge. This type of action choreographed by the new administration has caused a ripple effect, leaving federal scientists uncertain about their rights and abilities to communicate. These career civil servants are often at the forefront of science and provide key policy input.

In this webinar, these and other actions will be discussed within a larger historical and legal context. Responses to these actions, the role of social media, and further fallout from these actions will also be analyzed.


Shannon M. Oltmann is an Assistant Professor in the School of Information Science at the University of Kentucky. Her research interests include censorship, intellectual freedom, information policy, public libraries, privacy, and qualitative research methods. She has presented her research at academic conferences such as the Information Ethics Roundtable, the Annual Conference of the Association for Information Science & Technology, the iConference, and the International Congress on Qualitative Inquiry. Her work has been published in the Journal of the American Society for Information Science and Technology, Library Quarterly, Public Libraries Quarterly, Collection Management, Libri, and Science and Engineering Ethics.





A.J. Million is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Missouri. His research focuses on e-government, libraries, public administration, and emerging technologies. Taking a cue from John Dewey’s characterization of democracy as a way of life, he believes social ills can be addressed by ensuring information is managed by public organizations so citizens can use it to solve shared problems.