NYPD Twitter campaign backfired in a big way, as Twitter users, encouraged to post pictures of themselves posing with New York’s finest, instead sent pics of alleged police brutality. One such pic at the heart of the controversy, sent by the Occupy Wall Street protest movement, showed cops battling protesters with the caption: "Changing hearts and minds one baton at a time."
According to a report today from The Associated Press, as carried by MSN News, the NYPD used their Twitter page to tweet out the invitation for civilians to send in pictures of themselves interacting with police officers. The NYPD said they might use the photographs on its Facebook page. Instead, thousands of negatives tweets poured in, many complaining of maltreatment at the hands of police, and hundreds of pictures started to be shared.
A Reuters report said that Twitter users were asked to submit the pictures using the hashtag #myNYPD. Instead, the request “produced a flood of pictures of police brutality and tweets critical of the force being shared at a rate of thousands an hour,” states the report. Photos that seemed to support brutality, violence and controversial tactics started to deluge the Twitter handle. This morning, the hashtag had been retweeted close to 100,000 times.
In response to the boomeranging initiative, the NYPD issued a brief statement, saying that it was “creating new ways to communicate effectively with the community,” and adding that “Twitter provides an open forum for an uncensored exchange and this is an open dialogue good for our city.” The swift and overwhelmingly negative responses started a trend, with Twitter users in other cities following suit and tweeting pics and messages of suspected police cruelty using #MyLAPD, #MyCPD and #MyAPD for Los Angeles, Chicago and Albuquerque, New Mexico, where police brutality was brought to the fore lately after a scathing report from the Department of Justice.
A sample of the NYPD Tweets:
"Free Massages from the #NYPD. What does YOUR Police Department offer?" tweeted @OccupyWallStNYC, which posted an image of officers holding a man, seemingly screaming, with his arms behind his back, on top of a car.
"The #NYPD will also help you de-tangle your hair," tweeted @MoreAndAgain, posting a photo of an officer pulling the hair of a person who appears to be under arrest.
Of course, not all of the tweets were negative. Some posted photos of positive experiences with New York police officers. Others defended the NYPD. "People are so lame, there's a lot of good cops out there as well," tweeted @annuhk.