Comment: Police score own goal with offensive World Cup tweets

Watford Observer: Comment: Police score own goal with offensive World Cup tweets Comment: Police score own goal with offensive World Cup tweets

A few weeks back I lauded the West Herts hospital trust for the way it engages with patients on social media sites such as Twitter.

However, this week we were given an example of the pitfalls social media can present for public institutions.

Hertfordshire Constabulary showcased the more treacherous side of online public relations when it deleted, and then apologised for, tweets linking Colombia with cocaine and Nigeria with "scam artists".

The genesis of the gaffes was a well-meaning campaign using World Cup matches to highlight various crimes and then offer prevention advice.

It all seemed reasonable in theory. 

But it was in the execution that the force came a cropper.  As the tournament progressed, it quickly became clear that whoever was authoring the campaign was struggling to make meaningful links between the various nations and the types of crime blighting Hertfordshire.

One of the more baffling offerings included a tweet pointing out some people in Bosnia and Herzegovina live in the countryside, then adding some people in Hertfordshire also live in the countryside before ending with the clarion warning that crime also happens in rural areas.

Not quite sure that told the constabulary’s 21,000 followers anything they did not already know.

Still, at least it was inoffensive.  Things got a bit more dicey PR-wise when the force decided to use a Colombia match to highlight that the country is the world’s largest producer of cocaine, adding that the constabulary generally frowns upon drug use.

It followed up that blunder with another own goal by using a Nigeria match to warn about people falling victim to West African scam artists.

Now the aim of this campaign was honourable enough. And, to be fair to the constabulary, this faux pas is more a misjudgement rather than a calculated PR broadside on the offended nations. Yet the most worrying aspect of this episode was the tweets ever got to publication.

The campaign was clearly the result of concerted effort.

Bespoke and eye-catching graphics were created for each tweet and the text was part of the image.

So you’d think the offending messages were seen by a number of people.

And yet no one at the force thought tarring whole nations with drug production and fraud would cause offence?

While we are on the topic of the World Cup, this tournament has been the most enthralling I’ve had the pleasure of witnessing. The only drawback this week has been that most of the knockout games have gone into extra time, meaning I’m currently in the throes of quite acute sleep deprivation.

I presume I’m not the only one affected by this phenomenon and that the UK’s economic data for this quarter will something of a slump in productivity.

England’s early exit also means the economy is not going to reap the full surge in spending the tournament was expected to generate. Yet that does not mean all the economic benefits are spent.

Watford Council, for example, is planning to utilise the newly-revamped and more spacious Parade to host events such as viewings of classic films on a large screen.

It’s just an idea, but surely sporting events such as the World Cup or Wimbledon finals would also be fitting for such public viewings?

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Comments (3)

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2:38pm Fri 4 Jul 14

garston tony says...

How can it be offensive if the facts are accurate? Colombia is a major source of illegal drugs and a lot of scams do generate from Nigeria (i've had yet another one turn up in my emails junk box just this week asking me for my bank details so that money can be wired to me). The tweets were not saying everyone in those countries were involved.

The only people that take offence are the type that choose to go out of their way to be offended over nothing. Professional moaners basically

I note that the reporter totally ignores an actual offensive tweet sent by a certain local Labour Cllr. That says a lot, they'd rather pick on an organisation who didnt actually do anything wrong as they know they wont fight back rather than someone who has actually been extremely offensive via Twitter because they are probably scared of getting a response from them.

Pathetic.

As are the many many mindless people who it seems totally dis engage their minds (if they ever had one) when using social media. I'm beyond being in disbelief that despite story after story of someone getting done for something they've put online within days the NEXT story appearing of yet ANOTHER idiot doing something idiotic. We really are living in an age of the brain dead it seems.

I also dont think the WO is in a position to judge what other people publish considering some of the ridiculous stuff they put on line/in the paper.
How can it be offensive if the facts are accurate? Colombia is a major source of illegal drugs and a lot of scams do generate from Nigeria (i've had yet another one turn up in my emails junk box just this week asking me for my bank details so that money can be wired to me). The tweets were not saying everyone in those countries were involved. The only people that take offence are the type that choose to go out of their way to be offended over nothing. Professional moaners basically I note that the reporter totally ignores an actual offensive tweet sent by a certain local Labour Cllr. That says a lot, they'd rather pick on an organisation who didnt actually do anything wrong as they know they wont fight back rather than someone who has actually been extremely offensive via Twitter because they are probably scared of getting a response from them. Pathetic. As are the many many mindless people who it seems totally dis engage their minds (if they ever had one) when using social media. I'm beyond being in disbelief that despite story after story of someone getting done for something they've put online within days the NEXT story appearing of yet ANOTHER idiot doing something idiotic. We really are living in an age of the brain dead it seems. I also dont think the WO is in a position to judge what other people publish considering some of the ridiculous stuff they put on line/in the paper. garston tony
  • Score: 5

3:17pm Fri 4 Jul 14

Keefer says...

garston tony wrote:
How can it be offensive if the facts are accurate? Colombia is a major source of illegal drugs and a lot of scams do generate from Nigeria (i've had yet another one turn up in my emails junk box just this week asking me for my bank details so that money can be wired to me). The tweets were not saying everyone in those countries were involved.

The only people that take offence are the type that choose to go out of their way to be offended over nothing. Professional moaners basically

I note that the reporter totally ignores an actual offensive tweet sent by a certain local Labour Cllr. That says a lot, they'd rather pick on an organisation who didnt actually do anything wrong as they know they wont fight back rather than someone who has actually been extremely offensive via Twitter because they are probably scared of getting a response from them.

Pathetic.

As are the many many mindless people who it seems totally dis engage their minds (if they ever had one) when using social media. I'm beyond being in disbelief that despite story after story of someone getting done for something they've put online within days the NEXT story appearing of yet ANOTHER idiot doing something idiotic. We really are living in an age of the brain dead it seems.

I also dont think the WO is in a position to judge what other people publish considering some of the ridiculous stuff they put on line/in the paper.
I was with you all the way ...until you brought Politics into it. This is not about what Politicians do\don't do to get votes! This is a social matter about what should be highlighted by the Police and what shouldn't ...I agree that the Police were within their rights to tweet facts that may help keep their locals safer from crime, I also agree that complainants are being pedantic with regards to the tweets.

Facts are facts and the truth should never be denied, no matter how unpleasant it may be for some. If Columbia didn't export so many drugs they'd not be the subject of the suggestion.

I fail to see how the commentator can see it in the way he's intimated, unless he's courting controversy for a high comment count! The reasoning is flawed and he's spouting utter tosh.
[quote][p][bold]garston tony[/bold] wrote: How can it be offensive if the facts are accurate? Colombia is a major source of illegal drugs and a lot of scams do generate from Nigeria (i've had yet another one turn up in my emails junk box just this week asking me for my bank details so that money can be wired to me). The tweets were not saying everyone in those countries were involved. The only people that take offence are the type that choose to go out of their way to be offended over nothing. Professional moaners basically I note that the reporter totally ignores an actual offensive tweet sent by a certain local Labour Cllr. That says a lot, they'd rather pick on an organisation who didnt actually do anything wrong as they know they wont fight back rather than someone who has actually been extremely offensive via Twitter because they are probably scared of getting a response from them. Pathetic. As are the many many mindless people who it seems totally dis engage their minds (if they ever had one) when using social media. I'm beyond being in disbelief that despite story after story of someone getting done for something they've put online within days the NEXT story appearing of yet ANOTHER idiot doing something idiotic. We really are living in an age of the brain dead it seems. I also dont think the WO is in a position to judge what other people publish considering some of the ridiculous stuff they put on line/in the paper.[/p][/quote]I was with you all the way ...until you brought Politics into it. This is not about what Politicians do\don't do to get votes! This is a social matter about what should be highlighted by the Police and what shouldn't ...I agree that the Police were within their rights to tweet facts that may help keep their locals safer from crime, I also agree that complainants are being pedantic with regards to the tweets. Facts are facts and the truth should never be denied, no matter how unpleasant it may be for some. If Columbia didn't export so many drugs they'd not be the subject of the suggestion. I fail to see how the commentator can see it in the way he's intimated, unless he's courting controversy for a high comment count! The reasoning is flawed and he's spouting utter tosh. Keefer
  • Score: 1

9:52am Mon 7 Jul 14

garston tony says...

I brought politics into it due to the fact that the local Cllr tweeted something which was far far more pertinent to what the reporter was trying to say and I stand by my point, if he had gone after the cllr the way he went after the police she would have responded
I brought politics into it due to the fact that the local Cllr tweeted something which was far far more pertinent to what the reporter was trying to say and I stand by my point, if he had gone after the cllr the way he went after the police she would have responded garston tony
  • Score: 0
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