Social Media Quick Tip: Control the Virtual Scene

Just as police officers can control a crime scene by cordoning the area, they can also use social media to control stories told online by witnesses, speculators and the media.

Editor's Note: Each week, Law Officer will post a Social Media Quick Tip that's intended to help law enforcement officers better navigate the world of social media and the Internet.

Police officers are quick to block off a crime scene by cordoning the area with yellow tape. It’s amazing how that 3" plastic tape keeps law enforcement in control of the crime scene. It’s some powerful stuff.

Social media, especially Twitter, is also a powerful way for law officers to control, or at least greatly influence, the virtual scene, that is, the story that's told online by witnesses, speculators, the media and you.
Any time a serious event happens or there’s a protest, such as with the announcement of a verdict or sentencing in a high-profile case, people are going to be on Twitter talking about it. They follow the conversation on Twitter with the use of a hashtag, which is the # sign in front of any word or acronym. Placing the # sign in front of a word makes it clickable. Click on it and you see every tweet with that hashtag in it.

Law enforcement can inject messages of public safety into the Twitter stream of any conversation by also using the accepted hashtag for that event. If you find yourself involved in a situation with naysayers spreading rumors, set the record straight by tweeting the real deal right into the conversation by including the hashtag in your official tweets.


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