CNN hosts #AskACop…guess how well this went?

I’ve repeatedly written about how subjects with signifigant negative sentiment should avoid using branded hashtags, because the viral and open nature of these hashtags will often lead to serious negative feedback.

This past Tuesday, CNN ran a segment with a panel of police officers.  The show, which aired at 10pm, encouraged users to submit questions to police officers via Twitter:

Guess how this went:

These responses are brutal.

As noted by the Mashable article, many of the tweets did ask legitimate questions, and many were supportive as well.  However, the negative response to the hashtag did show a sad truth: an incredible amount of distrust and negative feels exist towards the men and women in blue.

From CNN’s perspective, however, the show was a hit: #AskACop was the top trending topic in the United States.

Clearly, while this may have been a sad day for police officers, it was not for CNN: they clearly got what they wanted.

So, was this a fail?  As always, the answer is nuanced.  There was a ton of negative feedback generated against police officers in general, and given the times we live in, this is sadly unsurprising.  This is clearly a national problem, and one that is, without a doubt, making it more difficult for police to take care of their community.  How can it be addressed, at least on social media?

Via things like #askacop.

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but police departments should use more hashtags like these, at least on a local level.  If they are truly dedicated towards rebuilding and restoring trust, as well as addressing their community, they should hold events like these and answer questions.  Of course, this comes with a few caviets:

  • This should be done on a local level, not a national one, if the goal is constructive dialogue. This way, when posed with questions about police brutality in other departments, local departments can respond honestly: they have not done things like that.
  • They should acknowledge that negative feedback will occur; in fact, they should encourage it, so it can be addressed.  Remember, people are using social media to talk about you regardless of whether or not you are actually using social media, and encouraging people to direct negative feedback to you gives you a chance to address it.

What do you think: Do I have this right? Let me know in the comments.

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