The team behind the New York City Police Department’s Twitter account is learning a valuable lesson today: just because you start a hashtag does not mean that you own it. Once a tag is out in the open, anyone can use it to share content. Yesterday the @NYPDnews account posted this message encouraging people to share photos of themselves with the city’s finest:

What was supposed to be community outreach has turned into a collection of photos of police aggression:

Late in the day yesterday, the NYPD issued a statement:

Twitter NYPD Statement


While the Deputy Chief was right about Twitter providing an open forum for an uncensored exchange, I’m not sure how the hostile messages and photos being shared is good for the city of New York. Clearly, this idea was not well thought out and will hopefully serve as an example to other organizations who are considering starting a conversation on social media. A little research could’ve shown how quickly a hashtag can become a bashtag.