The NYPD tried to put a positive spin on its public image with a social media campaign on Twitter Tuesday, only to have it backfire spectacularly.
“Do you have a photo w/ a member of the NYPD? Tweet us & tag it #myNYPD. It may be featured on our Facebook,” the @NYPDnews announced on Twitter. Accompanying the tweet was a photo of two smiling NYPD officers with a man in an NYPD knit hat posing between them.
Within minutes, other Twitter users began sending tweets with the hashtag — many of which contained unflattering depictions of NYPD officers.
“Beating an 84 yr old man for jaywalking. #MyNYPD // keepin it classy!” tweeted a user with the handle @DocR0cket. The tweet was accompanied by a photo of a New York Post cover that showed an elderly man bloodied by officers in January.
The @OccupyWallStNYC Twitter feed also took a similarly sarcastic tone. “Free Massages from the #NYPD. What does YOUR Police Department offer? Tweet at #MyNYPD,” the group posted, adding a photo of a young African-American man grimacing while three officers appear to pin him to a police cruiser.
In two hours’ time, the hashtag has generated more than 2,000 tweets, according to the social media analytics site Topsy.com.
The NYPD said in a statement that it was “creating new ways to communicate effectively with the community. Twitter provides an open forum for an uncensored exchange and this is an open dialogue good for our city. “
While some of the tweets have been positive — such as the four tweets showing NYPD officers and smiling civilians that @NYPDnews retweeted — one journalist gave a harsh assessment of the social media campaign.
“As predicted, it appears the NYPD’s #myNYPD hashtag is undergoing something of a hijacking right now,” Nick Pinto tweeted.
As predicted, it appears the NYPD’s #myNYPD hashtag is undergoing something of a hijacking right now.— Nick Pinto (@macfathom) April 22, 2014