Cops, like just about everyone else, can be really bad at social networks. They say offensive things, post photos of convicts, and actively disclose that they’re police officers. (If you’ve seen End of Watch, then you know why that can be a bad idea.)
The situation has gotten so bad for police officers in New York City that the NYPD has issued a set of rules governing officers’ use of Facebook and Twitter, reports the New York Daily News, which got a hold of a leaked memo detailing the rules.
The main idea: Don’t be stupid.
Under the new rules, officers are forbidden from posting photos of crime scenes, communicating with witnesses, and friending or following minors. Basically, they aren’t allowed to do anything while on social networks that they wouldn’t do while off social networks.
Besides the more obvious regulations, the NYPD’s rules sound a lot like those of most companies: If you divulge that you’re a part of an organization on social networks, you have to make it clear that your views don’t represent those of that organization. (If that sounds familiar, then it’s because it’s already a very common disclaimer in Twitter bios — “My Tweets are my own”, etc.)
Cops are a bit different, however, because their job demands a great deal of discretion. Want to be an undercover cop one day? Then it’s probably best not to tell everyone on the entire Internet that you’re a police officer. Even thugs have Facebook accounts.
Photo: Sean Ludwig/VentureBeat