NYPD sends cops to Twitter school, and your government should probably do the same

NYPDI’ve written previously about the NYPD’s infamous Twitter Fail, when they tried to use the #myNYPD hashtag to generate positive images of people with NYPD officers, only to have the hashtag go viral when people used it to highlight examples of police brutality.  That disaster makes this story even more satisfying: the NYPD is sending its police officers to Twitter school.

According to the story, police officers are being asked to take the course in order to prevent tweeting inappropriate content, and instead use Twitter to share “information about wanted persons, street closures and crimes stats.” In other words, the class is teaching do’s and don’ts, which is a great model: it’s seeking to prevent disasters and promote good social media use.

We’ve reached the point where our government and law enforcement absolutely must use social media in order to effectively communicate.  To that end, training is necessary, and this is a model that all police departments should take a look at, regardless of that departments size.  Really, my own concern would be that the NYPD is only focusing on Twitter with this course: They should also check out training in other mediums, like Facebook and Instagram.

There is an additional issue here: NYPD officers should also know how to read other people’s networks.  There has been no shortage of instances in which criminals, very stupidly, found themselves under arrested after doing something absurdly stupid on social media that gave themselves away. It’s not always this obvious either: For example, a check-in at a location in which there was a crime may provide key evidence. To that end, investigators need to be trained in not only how to use social media themselves, but how to read other people’s networks and search for potentially incriminating content.  Courses like this would have to provide information in how to search social networks, how to capture information, how to read location tags and more.  Of course, law enforcement officials also have the ability to subpoena social networks for additional information, and all police investigators need to have access to information on how to do that as well.

Any other content that you think police officers should be taught when it comes to social media?  Let us know in the comments!

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