In what sounds like another sterling example of a First World Problem, the Seattle Police Department conducted an experiment with their Twitter account, essentially treating it like a police blotter report. This actually sounds like an innovative use for Twitter, but yet, some people complained like they were personally offended.
Seattle PD’s Twitter account, during the experimental process of broadcasting their reports, contains posts that look like this:
And that, apparently, is reason enough for reactionary articles that seem to miss the point. Take Linda Thomas, for instance. Evidently, the crime updates were too much for her to handle, which led to this little lesson in Twitter etiquette:
That’s my view as someone who actively uses Twitter and sees the tremendous potential for sharing and gaining information. I’m not a fan of using Twitter as one-way communication, especially if a government agency with a duty to the public is behind the feed. SPD was not responding to those who asked questions about the sudden batch of dispatch tweets. While there are many ways to use Twitter, the most effective way is a combination of sharing information and interacting with followers.
Actually, I don’t think the purpose of the Seattle PD’s Twitter feed is to respond as much as it is to inform. Just think if you were planning on traveling to the areas mentioned in their feed. Would you be as apt to do so if there were reports of crimes going on? Is that not information you can use?
It should also be noted that while police scanner-style updates are no good, these kinds are:
@ConanOBrien I’m mentioned in the @NYTimes today http://t.co/WpFQYg7 Now will you follow me?
Because getting a follow from Team Coco is just as imperative as warning the public about ongoing crime. It’s hard to say what Thomas wanted besides interaction from the Seattle PD. Is an “all clear” follow-up just the thing to salve her social media wounds? Considering all the junk Twitter is full of, having some actual usable information about the area you live in serves much more of a purpose than letting folks know that your morning trip to Starbucks was amazing.
Of course, I could simply point out this tweet from Thomas, which is the same thing she balled out the Seattle PD for:
Maybe she views the Seattle PD Twitter account as a threat to her job security.
In other news, the lambasting of the Seattle PD gained some traction in the New York Times as well. It was here that the motivation behind the police department’s Twitter use:
No. The Police Department in this technology-conscious city had started a 12-hour experiment of posting almost all its emergency calls on Twitter. It wanted citizens to see what a day in the life of the department was really like.
Considering all the updates they issued, it’s clearly a very busy when it comes to policing the city of Seattle, and yet, others mock it with comments like “Today, the SPD was a noisy uncle at the dinner table who was only talking about himself – in incoherent sentences at that – and refusing to acknowledge that there are others in the room…” It’s kind of baffling the level of expectation people have.
Take, for instance, Twitter member @alyssagrows. She, too, was unhappy with the Seattle PD’s updates, and so she replied with:
@SeattlePD I don’t care about mental person panhandling too aggressive while jaywalking. Bad use of twitter!Ok I had to mute the
Meanwhile, stuff like this apparently isn’t:
@idriselba what does your tattoo say?
So yeah, there’s that. Clearly, knowing what Idris Elba’s tattoos say is more important than knowing what kind of crime is happening in your city. Or is it something else entirely? Is there more crime in Seattle than people first expected, and the confirmation just depressed them?
I, for one, applaud the creative use of Twitter, whether there were responses from the Seattle PD or not.