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The NYPD Twitter Backlash, And Why You Should Not Launch A Feel Good Hashtag


Sometimes, brands and organizations wants to promote some feel good things on the internet.  To do this, brands and organizations will start a hashtag on social media in the hopes that it will bring good things about that brand or organization.  But most of the time, when a hashtag is started to promote good things, it backfires!  Come on, this is the internet, where people love sharing the bad and weird things that pops up each day.  The internet would care more about what that celebrity did to land in rehab versus seeing someone donating a lot of money to a charity.  The latest brand to see a good venture hashtag blown up is the New York City Police Department, or NYPD.

The NYPD started the hashtag #myNYPD and encouraged people to share good photos with police officers in New York City.  What turned into a feel good venture has turned into a real-time disaster the internet is laughing over.  Instead of good photos featuring people standing next to police officers, people are uploading pictures of abuse and brutality by police officers from the department.  So, instead of a good-looking photo like this.

Users were uploading photos like this.

The hashtag was taken over by people posting some bad photos of unprofessional NYPD behavior, from cops apparently asleep in uniform to officers holding down a person on the pavement.  At one time, the hashtag was the a top 10 trending topic on Twitter worldwide.  People repeatedly uploaded pictures showing the NYPD Police doing some bad things.  From fighting people.

Playing games while on the job.

Frisk searching pets.

Give people free neck massages.

And yes, even running over someone.

The Twitter backlash was even profiled by the New York City newspapers, that’s not good!

NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton was happy the Twitter hashtag went viral on social media.  Along with the bad photos, some great photos were also featured.  The agency has no plans to stop using the #myNYPD hashtag on social media.  Maybe the bad pictures will result in a better NYPD police force, we all hope so!  The NYPD debacle is not first time a social media hashtag campaign backfired.  McDonald’s did the #McDstories which backfired badly.

And Starbucks did the #SpreadTheCheer campaign which turned into a not paying taxes bashing.

So let this latest internet laughover be a lesson for any company or organization thinking about starting a hashtag trend on the internet.  Do not start a hashtag asking for good photos and/or words.  Because the internet is going to make sure it backfires on you.  And your good nurtured campaign will become fodder for the late night comics and @Midnight on Comedy Central.  I am sure you don’t want that do you?

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6 replies »

  1. That was a good article! Yeah, the NYPD hashtag backfire was coming since people had plenty of bad police photos to share. I hope this will be the change needed to make the police better, but I wonder if that will happen? Thanks for commenting!

  2. Thanks Nathan, glad you enjoyed 🙂 It seems that Bratton has put his head in the sand over the issue.. “all old photos”.. which might be true but doesn’t change the fact that public perception is ridiculing his police force.

  3. Great writeup! Yes, the NYPD has a image problem shown clearly from this Twitter hashtag campaign. Will the NYPD clean up, or continue their ways, time will tell!