Social Media Etiquette

The Seattle Police Department conducted an experiment of posting most of its emergency calls on Twitter for a 12-hour period to show citizens a day in the life of the department. The result was almost 500 Twitter messages in one day.

Twitter followers of the department were surprised, confused and even upset with the torrent of messages reporting events such as traffic stops, disturbances and assault.  Within a few hours, hundreds of followers had decided to “unfollow” the department.

Some social media users would consider this a poor use of Twitter and would recommend better communication practices.  However, many Twitter users outside of Seattle thought this was insightful and requested their own police departments follow suit.  The Wichita, Kansas Police Department tested a similar program but only for one hour.

The Seattle PD considered the experiment a success, with a spokesman citing its ability to raise awareness within the community.  Now the SPD Blotter is posting to Twitter under the hash-tag #tweetalong and recording events as they occur during a routine bike patrol.

Read the full article here: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/29/us/29cops.html

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