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NYPD Is Practically Begging For Another Twitter Disaster

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Undeterred by a recent hashtag campaign that went viral for all the wrong reasons, the New York City Police Department appears determined to bounce back from -- if not double down on -- their social media skills.

In fact, The New York Times reports the NYPD will soon task all precinct commanders throughout the city to man their own Facebook and Twitter accounts, a strategy that has unsurprisingly raised some eyebrows.

“I would call this a rookie move,” NYU marketing professor Scott Galloway told the paper. “Doing it on Twitter is no different as if they’d changed their uniforms to bull’s-eyes.”

But police commissioner Bill Bratton, who was appointed in January, clearly believes otherwise. Bratton is looking to increased, open communications as a defining step in ameliorating the department's image -- one that has plummeted over the past decade with controversial police tactics, including stop and frisk and the widespread surveillance of Muslims.

In just the past four months, Bratton has significantly reduced stop-and-frisk rates and shut down the spying program.

However, as last week's massive public relations fail in the form of #myNYPD quickly demonstrated, the move to expand the agency's social media efforts -- which currently focus on following the local rap game and befriending boastful criminals -- will surely be a tricky one.

On Tuesday, a detective ran with the idea to use the hashtag #myNYPD to encourage followers to post positive photos of them posing with police officers, a poorly advised initiative that led critics to post countless photos depicting police aggression, violence, and racial tensions.

nypd social media

One subversive response from the popular @OccupyWallStNYC Twitter account.

"It can be difficult to disentangle things that happen on Twitter from lighthearted entertainment, but, scrolling through the #myNYPD tweets and accompanying photographs, it’s harder not to marvel at what so many people are saying: New York City’s police department is widely viewed as an instrument of violence and the abuse of power, and has been for some time," The New Yorker's Matthew McKnight wrote following the swift backlash.

But as Bratton indicated Wednesday, the NYPD's social media push will not be thwarted by #myNYPD.

"Was that particular reaction from the some of the police adversaries anticipated? To be quite frank, it was not," Bratton said. "But at the same time it's not going to cause us to change any of our efforts to be very active on social media. ... It is what it is. It's an open, transparent world."

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