The Internet, as we know it today, was created largely by people who weren’t fans of authority. This is rather evident when you look at the mostly decentralized nature of the system. In fact the very protocols that make the Internet work are proposed through Requests for Comment (RFC) and the only deciding factor for whether or not they achieve widespread adoption is peoples’ willingness to adopt them. So what happens when a very anti-authoritarian network meets a very authoritarian organization? Hilarity:
For another case study in the perils of using Twitter for branding, look no further than the #myNYPD hashtag that is now trending for all the wrong reasons in the New York City area.
What started out as an attempt to solicit pent-up good feelings among the New York Police Department’s constituents is turning out to be a troll-fest of epic proportions.
The New York Police Department (NYPD) wanted to use Twitter as its propaganda arm by having users post heartwarming pictures of its officers helping New Yorkers. What they got instead were pictures of brutality carried out by NYPD officers.
There is a lesson to be learned by the NYPD from this. The department’s image sucks and for good reason. Officers in the NYPD have a long history of committing acts of brutality and being generally corrupt. Thanks to readily available recording equipment, namely cell phones with cameras, the amount of evidence of the NYPD’s brutality is voluminous. What this means is that any attempt to solicit the help of the Internet, which is heavily composed of people who are not big fans of brutality, will end in disaster.
What the NYPD should do now is accept that its image sucks, understand why its image sucks, and work to improve its image but not doing horrible things. What will probably happen is the person who though up the #myNYPD idea will be fired and more traditional routes of distributing propaganda will be utilized.