It’s hard to imagine how the campaign could have gone more wrong for New York police — a social media push that backfired not only on them, but on their colleagues in other cities.
The New York Police Department on Tuesday asked folks on Twitter to post photos with its officers, using the hashtag #myNYPD. The response was swift — and overwhelmingly negative.
Hijacking the hashtag, users posted photos they said showed police brutality or misconduct.
“Free Massages from the #NYPD. What does YOUR Police Department offer?” tweeted @OccupyWallStNYC, which posted an image of officers holding a man, seemingly screaming, with his arms behind his back, on top of a car.
“The #NYPD will also help you de-tangle your hair,” tweeted @MoreAndAgain, posting a photo of an officer pulling the hair of a person who appears to be under arrest.
Critics of police departments across the country swiftly followed suit. Among the hashtags that arose by Wednesday morning were #MyLAPD, #MyCPD and #MyAPD for Los Angeles, Chicago and Albuquerque, New Mexico, where a Justice Department report recently blasted what it called a long history of police brutality and unnecessary deadly force.
In a tweet that showed a Chicago police officer who appeared ready to punch someone with a camera, @70torinoman quipped, “#myCPD extending his fist out to the community.”
Despite the backlash, a New York police spokeswoman defended the campaign.
“The NYPD is 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,” said Deputy Chief Kim Y. Royster.
Indeed, the posts weren’t all bad.
“(M)y photo from my ride along with the boys from the 90th pct,” tweeted @poshwonderwoman, showing a woman posing alongside three smiling officers.
One user even criticized the backlash.
“People are so lame, there’s a lot of good cops out there as well,” tweeted @annuhk.
The social media fail was reminiscent of another recent Twitter debacle.
In 2012, McDonald’s created the #McDstories hashtag, asking customers to share their favorite McDonald’s memories.
The company yanked the campaign after two hours and countless food-horror stories about fingernails, insects and bouts of food poisoning.
One user tweeted Tuesday about the harsh lesson learned.
Another user said the NYPD should have known better.
— #OccupyWallStreet & #CLOSErikers with #NoNewJails (@OccupyWallStNYC) April 22, 2014