NYPD Failed At Social Media This Time, But They Reacted Like Adults To That Failure

from the what'd-you-expect? dept

If you were alive yesterday and opened up a web browser, you likely saw the story of how the NYPD attempted to build some social media buzz and found that attempt turned around on its ass. The police force that has previously done a decent job at connecting with people on Twitter decided to run a campaign asking the public to share photos of themselves with police officers. They probably thought most of the pictures would be of smiling and appreciative citizens and local beat cops. Let's just say their expectations were slightly off the mark.

Almost immediately after the call went out from the department's official Twitter account, storms of users took the opportunity to instead attach some of the most unfavorable images of New York City officers that could be found on the Internet. And judging by the output on Tuesday, there are quite a few. Officers holding down a photographer on the pavement and a white-shirted supervisor twisting an arm, among scores taken during Occupy Wall Street protests. An officer knocking a bicyclist to the ground during a Critical Mass protest ride, and another dancing provocatively with a barely clad paradegoer. A dog being shot. Officers on trial, or sleeping in uniform on a subway train.
Oops. But this probably should have been expected in response to a police force that has had some very serious public relations problems revolving around some serious policy decisions. Stop and frisk, waste and fraud, and an apparent distaste for citizen journalists were on everyone's mind and the backlash was as severe as described above. Having found their campaign being turned into a PR nightmare, you might think the NYPD would react angrily to yesterday's mishap. It turns out they were prepared to be adults.
A spokeswoman for the department, Deputy Chief Kim Y. Royster, said in a two-sentence statement Tuesday evening that the department was “creating new ways to communicate effectively with the community” and that Twitter provided “an open forum for an uncensored exchange” that is “good for our city.”

The experience will not stop the department from pushing forward with social media endeavors, its top spokesman, Stephen Davis, said. “You take the good with the bad,” he said.
Look, I realize that praising Royster's statement in light of the larger problems the NYPD has in interacting with their own citizenry may seem strange, but the fact is that both spokespeople are absolutely correct. The entire point of social media is about engagement. If that engagement doesn't go exactly as they expected, and it certainly didn't, that doesn't mean there isn't value in it. Choosing to respond in an adult way means the trolling doesn't get any worse and may actually provide an avenue for dialog that results in real change. It may be a small thing, but it's still a good thing.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. icon
    Ninja (profile), Apr 23rd, 2014 @ 12:06pm

    Watch for the aftermath. I do expect persecution and harassment of some Twitter users.

    That said, this could also be an opportunity for the NYPD to acknowledge people aren't fond of them and do some revamping of the whole department and its policies. You know, become a better entity. I won't hold my breath.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2. icon
    CK20XX (profile), Apr 23rd, 2014 @ 1:30pm

    That adult response is a glimmer of hope. It may be foolish to think that the NYPD will now take steps to become less threatening than the criminals it's supposed to apprehend, but it would also be foolish to not capitalize on this opportunity to have mature discussions about how the NYPD has made everyone less safe. They've seen what the public thinks of them, so now it's time to take the next step in reforming them before they can relapse.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3. icon
    That One Guy (profile), Apr 23rd, 2014 @ 1:40pm

    Talk about low expectations

    When simply acting like a mature adult is considered an accomplishment, you know that a group's reputation is ridiculously bad.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4. identicon
    zip, Apr 23rd, 2014 @ 1:45pm


    The NYPD's controversial decision to ban journalists from witnessing the big police raid on the Occupy Wall Street camp is starting to make more sense. Pictures are toxic, so keeping cameras and journalists away eventually pays dividends, though in this case enough bad PR was able to leak through to blacken their social-media presence.

    I wonder what ever happened to 'Tony Baloney' - the white-shirted police captain who famously walked up and pepper-sprayed a group of female OWS protesters held in police custody.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 23rd, 2014 @ 1:50pm


    If your gonna dream, dream big I say!

    NYPD will not be stopped until the people practically or literally lynch the mayor or the Federal gov actually enforces the Constitution and threaten action against NYPD for their activities. Chances of that happening are less than a revolution at this point.

    And from what I read Bloomberg thinks he is going right to heaven no questions asked.

    A person with this level of hubris to even publicly announce such a thing will never be a good one. In fact rotten to the core might be a good explanation.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6. identicon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward, Apr 23rd, 2014 @ 1:51pm


    ...of a day when the Government actually gave a rat's patootie about what the masses think. There was a design to the government that gave balance between the three branches. What was not balanced correctly was the thirst and greed for power. This has tilted, and is approaching a dangerous point of balance. This article indicates one aspect only in one city. The rest of the nation needs to shift, toward a new power balance paradigm. More feedback from the masses. Speech infringed? More speech. More speech. More speech.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 23rd, 2014 @ 1:59pm

    Re: Dreaming...

    Root cause of all government corruption is the people, even in a despotism. Set yourself free, no one else is going to do it for you!

    We elect them. As long as we play this left vs right, Dem vs Rep, conservative vs republican, & North vs South business we will never stop fighting each other long enough to wipe out corruption. Pres George Washington was so right.

    We all love "Our Guy" for what he brought us while we hate most of congress... even if our guy had to do it in a shady manor its okay. Anyone notice the flaw here?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 23rd, 2014 @ 2:01pm

    As much as I'd love to see the NYPD treat this as a wakeup call and start trying to do better and improve their image, if they do somehow learn anything from this it'll probably be how to ignore the public.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 23rd, 2014 @ 2:05pm

    Interesting how Cushing didn't post this one.....

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10. identicon
    anonymous dutch coward, Apr 23rd, 2014 @ 2:10pm

    just the nypd?

    "a police force that has had some very serious public relations problems"

    are there any USA police forces without some very serious public relations problems these days?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11. icon
    John Fenderson (profile), Apr 23rd, 2014 @ 2:26pm


    I think someone has a crush!

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12. icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Apr 23rd, 2014 @ 11:44pm

    “You take the good with the bad,”

    When did they plan to getting around to unleashing the good on the citizens?

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13. icon
    John Fenderson (profile), Apr 24th, 2014 @ 8:49am


    When the TV show comes back, maybe?

    You take the good, you take the bad,
    you take them both and there you have
    The Facts of Life, the Facts of Life.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14. icon
    Vanye (profile), Apr 24th, 2014 @ 9:58am

    Re: Re:

    OMG, don't say that. Hollywood is already remaking everything else, don't let them think that rebooting THIS would be a good idea.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 24th, 2014 @ 9:52pm

    Re: Re:

    Change isn't impossible - the UK police were cleaned up in the early 90s after the reputation of some forces became unacceptably awful in the 70s and 80s (apart from anti-union thuggery against the miners, some police units were so corrupt they were little more than uniformed gangs).

    PACE was the result, which restrained some of the underhand tactics used by the police (until RIPA undid a lot of it), and although questionable behaviour continued it was at least mainly working for the government rather than themselves.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16. icon
    Spaceman Spiff (profile), Apr 25th, 2014 @ 8:51am

    Credit the spokespeople, not the department

    Just because 2 of the NYPD's PR department staff have half a brain between them doesn't mean that the department itself is reformed...

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Apr 25th, 2014 @ 9:14am

    I fail to see where this was a failure. I thought that was the face of the NYPD.

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18. identicon
    igobono igobono, Jul 20th, 2014 @ 6:27am

    Message from Mike

    Create your own social economy at igobono.com

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

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