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Police Say Social Media Not the Place to Request Urgent Assistance

Author: Erin Beck, Charleston Gazette

Date: 2015-07-13
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- From Charleston Gazzette, Charleston, WV

As emergency responders have increasingly turned to social media to interact with the public, they are seeing an unintended, potentially dangerous side effect.

Some police agencies have set up Facebook and Twitter profiles in an effort to share information and create positive perceptions of police. The profiles can be useful for accepting crime tips, dispelling misconceptions, and to some, sharing the information police view as pertinent directly, without what they might view as media interference.

On the West Virginia State Police page, which has about 120,000 likes, the administrator can be even be seen interacting directly in comments with people who like the page.

To some, sending a request for help might seem like a logical next step.

But the expectation of two-way interaction should stop when the page’s fans begin to expect urgent assistance, according to State Police spokesman Lt. Michael Baylous.

Baylous said the page has received several messages in which the person is requesting an immediate response.

“We have a generation now that are becoming young adults that that’s how they communicate,” he said. “That’s all they’ve ever known is to communicate with text messages and emails and in messages. They weren’t raised in an environment where you had to actually pick up the phone and call somebody and talk to them or stop in a detachment and ask for help.”

Baylous has written multiple posts from the State Police’s accounts, asking people not to request urgent assistance through social media.

Continue to Charleston Gazette to read the full story.

- People, Places & Things/ ( © Charleston [WV] Gazette, 7/13/15)



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