Monday, January 20, 2014

Police: Hey Kid, Stop Using Twitter During Standoff

Social media has increasingly become part of crisis and hostage situations.  The role social media ranges from messages being posted by the subject leading up to the incident, the subject and victims posting during the incident as well as the police, and finally the police sharing information post-incident. 

Unfortunately people also post live updates of incidents that can interfere with police operations.  What is also unfortunate, as this story shows, is people do not seem to realize the impact their tweets or status updates can.  

Take a look at the following quote and then read the story below (Note: Greer is the person who happened to see the situation unfold from his window): When asked about whether he was worried he was giving away the location of the officers, Greer said any man "dumb enough to involve himself in a domestic violence case of that magnitude isn't going to be smart enough to check Twitter for a hashtag concerning police locations, but I did stop tweeting exact locations once I thought about it."

Now read more about the  story:
College student live-tweets police standoff
Houston Chronicle- College Station police on Tuesday night were alerted to a family disturbance involving reports of a firearm being fired inside a Harvest Street home.
The disturbance ended up turning into an hourslong police standoff involving SWAT and hostage negotiation teams. The incident was resolved when William Herring, 20, of College Station was arrested on charges of assault and evading arrest.  
But what happened during the standoff is what is making headlines.  
A neighbor, Texas A&M sophomore Hayden Greer, began live-tweeting the entire incident, down to posting details about the number of police involved, their movements, and other specific details. Greer even began using a hashtag, #LiveTweetTheNeighborTakedown, which soon caught on in the community.
Greer wasn't available for comment on Thursday afternoon. 
"We became aware that someone was posting information about police actions, so we reached out to the guy to see if we could get him to stop posting information about what we were doing," said Lt. Chuck Fleeger with the College Station Police Department. Greer was cooperative and ceased his social media play-by-play. 
Here are seven examples are how social media had a direct role during a crisis / hostage situation:
Facebook Played a Central Role In Standoff

With Police Closing In, Teen Updates Facebook

Suspect held city #hostage on social media

Social media ratchets up the pressure on a routine police call