Police demand Twitter account return

May 26th, 2009 - 6:39 pm ICT by John Le Fevre  

Police in the Australian State of New South Wales (NSW) have demanded the owner of the Twitter micro-blogging platform identity http://www.twitter.com/nswpolice hand it over.

A Sydney digital marketing agency, Mentally Friendly, has admitted that its staff were behind the fake NSW Police Twitter account, saying its “social media experiment” went “horribly right”.

However the cops in NSW were not amused, particularly at tweets such as one claiming they were “enjoying new secret search powers”.

NSW Police public affairs director, Strath Gordon, confirmed the Twitter account was now under the control of police who were “actively using the account”.

“Twitter is another communications platform available for police to communicate with the community to raise awareness, issue warnings and to appeal for public assistance,”

Since taking control of the Twitter account the police have used it to disseminate the hotline number for the latest information on flooding in northern NSW and the NSW firearms amnesty.

Mentally Friendly’s Nick Gower said the agency never intended “to misrepresent the NSW Police Force, but to create a simple and genuine dialogue with which to gauge the public’s response.”

The agency used the Twitter account largely as it imagined the real NSW Police would, such as for issuing road safety advice.

Twitter has experienced exponential growth in the last six months, though fake Twitter accounts are a problem, especially for celebrities and people such as government ministers with a high profile.

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