Police departments around North America have gradually, if warily, come to embrace social media as a way of communicating with their communities. But things can quickly go awry on Facebook and Twitter, a lesson the New York Police Department learned in April when a photo contest designed to showcase friendly photos of citizens with police officers was taken over by images of police aggressively subduing people. A month after the #myNYPD fiasco, top NYPD officials have been taking courses in using Twitter effectively, the Wall Street Journal reports.
The training, which is accompanied by a 34-page Twitter manual, advises dad humor, animal rescue photos, and hashtags. It warns against seeming insensitive and fighting with trolls. "Twitter combat is unwinnable and it's pointless," Zachary Tumin, a deputy commissioner, told the Journal. So far, police are pleased with the results — they've grown their Facebook fans 40 percent and their Twitter following 80 percent since January 1st. There are now more than 40 official NYPD Twitter accounts, and the department says that dozens more are coming.