Users hijack hashtag meant to portray cops as good guys

Adan Salazar
April 24, 2014

This week, the New York Police Department learned the hard way that social media campaigns can backfire if not properly thought-out, and now users around the world have taken a cue and started their own hashtags calling out the LAPD, Greek and Spanish police and even Mexico’s law enforcement on their sometimes brutal tactics.

On Tuesday, the NYPD social media relations team believed it had devised a brilliant plan to lift their public relations persona. They started the hashtag #MyNYPD and asked people to submit photos of themselves with officers.

They wanted photos like this:

But instead of tweeting cheerful, wholesome pics of cops just being normal people, users spun the propaganda campaign and began tweeting pics of cops in various action poses assaulting members of the public.

This is what they got instead:

NYPD Police Commissioner Bill Bratton told NY Daily News he “kind of [welcomed] the attention,” marveling at the traffic the trend was generating, stating, “We really broke the numbers yesterday.”

Bratton wasn’t too concerned because “Most of the pictures I looked at, they’re old news,” and because “They’ve been out there for a long time.” He added that “Often times police activities are lawful, but look awful.”

By Wednesday, users were redirecting their frustration towards the Los Angeles Police Department, starting the hastag trend #MyLAPD, and filling it with similar photos.

“It’s an opportunity for people apparently to vent about how they feel about the Police Department or to bring up things that people perceive that we did wrong in the past,” LAPD Commander Andrew Smith told KTLA.

Here are some of the photos being tagged #MyLAPD:

The trend has even spread to other parts of the world to places like Greece, Mexico and Spain where outrageous military police state tactics are frequent.

Truth be told, the NYPD should likely have anticipated the ensuing reaction from a police corruption-weary public. No telling how long their PR disaster will continue to linger.

Considering the extent Twitter has been used to organize protests, it’s no wonder the social media giant is considering eliminating hashtags.

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