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Capturing the Moment

Does the public ever get to know about the good things your officers do on a daily basis? With today’s smart phones it can be as simple as taking a picture or creating a short video. That is exactly what an Omaha Police Officer did when he met up with two fellow officers.

Officers Barnes and Groth rescuing Mayala and Trouble.

Police Officers Barnes and Groth were on duty driving on the interstate on one of the coldest days of the year when they spotted two dogs in traffic. Rather than just driving on down the road, they stopped their cruisers and rescued the dogs. While that is a great story and, one of many that officers perform daily, what makes this moment even better is an officer’s foresight to document it.

When the officers returned with the dogs, a quick 30 second video about the dogs’ rescue and quick picture were taken. Let me just say this again… a 30 second video and a quick snapshot. That’s all the time that it took to make a huge positive impact for our department.

Realizing the value of the picture and video, the officer quickly posted it on the Omaha Police Officers Association Facebook Page under the heading, “ More Evidence… Cops Love Dogs,” and we shared it on the Omaha Police Department’s Facebook Page.

So let’s take a look at the numbers from this one post. At the time of this writing and between the two Facebook pages, the post was shared almost 400 times, had over 250 comments, the majority of which praised officers for saving the dogs, and was seen by 94,000 people! And believe it or not, it was picked up by one of the four local news stations who ran two great positive new stories.

We all know from firsthand experience that, if it were a negative cop/dog story, all the stations would have covered it, however this is a great example of how to create your own positive press relations in your community.   (After the dogs were turned over to the Humane Society, the owner signed papers to have the dogs adopted. Once that went public, he tried to get the dogs back. However he had an active warrant for cruelty to animals and the rest of the dogs were removed from the house.)

So who captures your positive moments on your department? Do your officers understand the value of positive press? Do your command officers understand the value of positive press? These are questions you should consider asking and consider when drafting social media policies. Find officers that are willing to capture and share those good moments. Share positive photos and videos on your department’s Facebook, Twitter and blogs. Utilize the free marketing campaign that is at your fingertips. It’s our favorite price… FREE!

Waiting in the wings is that next negative situation that will go public and make us all look bad. Why not get ahead of that and start promoting all the good things that your department does. Good stories happen every day. Make sure your department capitalizes on them. 30 seconds is a very short time to make an impact… good or bad!

 

Bridget is a 17 year veteran of the Omaha Police Department. Her work as a Crime Prevention Specialist has given her insight to many of the communities concerns. She has been one of the administrators of the OPD Facebook page for approximately 2 years. Her involvement as a Facebook administrator has been instrumental in increasing the fan base for the page and helping to control the fallout due to controversial issues.

Editor’s note: Fitzpatrick is the recipient of the first ConnectedCOPS “Civilian Award of Excellence” with social media.

PGPD Game Time

It had the ingredients for a traffic disaster: a Monday evening rush hour on the notoriously clogged Capital Beltway combined with a 7:05 pm kick-off for the Washington Redskins’ 2013 season home opener in Landover, Maryland.

But the Prince George’s County Police Department, whose headquarters borders FedEx Field, home of the Redskins’ stadium, decided to tackle the traffic challenge head-on. The department’s Media Relations Division developed a plan to inform the community about one of the most talked about topics in the Washington, DC area on any day of the year: traffic. The PGPD created “Game Time,” an information-sharing social media event. The department began tweeting on the Friday before the Monday Night Football game against the Redskins’ nearby NFC East rival the Philadelphia Eagles. Using the hashtag #GameTime, one member of the Media Relations Division coordinated with the police department’s Special Operations Division, which oversees all events at FedEx Field, to determine which information and images to tweet and when.

NFL games are major events for the PGPD with some 200 officers handling security and traffic. There is a large control room within FedEx Field where the Special Ops commanders keep a watchful eye on activities both in and around the stadium. Relying on a large bank of traffic cameras surveying the major arteries near the 90,000-person stadium, the Media Relations Division was able to see and then share traffic news in real time as the 7:05pm kickoff approached.

Various local media outlets gave advance coverage to “Game Time”, advising viewers, listeners and reader that the police department’s Twitter handle, @PGPDNews, would be tweeting traffic news during the potentially disastrous evening commute. This included the widely-followed The Washington Post’s traffic Twitter handle, @DrGridlock.

To maintain the momentum of the media coverage and to help game-goers plan, Media Relations began tweeting #GameTime news at about 3:30pm, 3 1/2 hours before the game began. In an attempt to crowd source traffic information, the PGPD solicited commuter input & specifically tried to discourage the notion of having drivers tweeting while behind the wheel:


At about 5 pm, this basic tweet prompted 12 retweets, or sharing of the police department’s message:

The Department’s message was spreading:

A parking logistics coordinator working for the Washington Redskins noted during the event it seemed to him the advance media coverage and the possibility of gridlock might be having an effect – not just on game attendees but on rush hour commuters as well. The parking lots, both he and police commanders noted, were filling up much earlier than expected.

The major roadways were far less congested than expected as kick-off neared. Drivers had planned ahead and arrived at the stadium well in advance.

A PGPD Special Operations Division helicopter flying above the stadium offered aerial images of traffic and the parking lots. Those tweets generated a lot of retweets, indicating the appetite for information included an appreciation for social media aesthetics.

In addition to the media coverage generated by the event, the PGPD advertised for “Game Time” in the days leading up to the game on Twitter, since that’s where the event would take place. However, to encourage crossover followers, the event was also advertised on the department’s Facebook page.

What ticket holders and commuters alike took away from the “Game Time” experience isn’t easily measured. Based on media coverage, the 38 new @PGPDNews followers gained that day and positive response from existing @PGPDNews followers, the department deemed the event a success.

The next similar event is planned for the week before Thanksgiving. Look for @PGPDNews to host #OperationOutlets on November 22, 2013. The grand opening for a new outlets mall in Prince George’s County is expected to draw more than 20,000 visitors and could lead to traffic tie-ups. To try and prevent that, the PGPD’s Special Operations Division’s Traffic Enforcement Unit and the Media Relations Division will again team up, returning to Twitter to once again keep citizens informed.

Julie Parker serves as the Director of the Media Relations Division for the Prince George’s County (MD) Police Department, the nation’s 28th largest law enforcement agency. The PGPD straddles Washington, D.C. and spans 500 square miles of urban, suburban, and rural populations. Prince George’s County is home to the University of Maryland at College Park, the Washington Redskins, and NASA headquarters with an approximate population of 900,000. Parker serves as principal communications advisor to the Chief of Police & other executive command staff and is responsible for key messages and media strategy, to include during crisis situations. She promotes and achieves positive news stories at an unprecedented level for this police department. Parker manages a 13-person division comprised of sworn and civilian public information officers, video production specialists, graphic designer, Crime Solvers coordinator and special projects professional. Parker is also a frequent guest lecturer at the FBI National Academy on law enforcement media relations and crisis communications. She’s a recognized leader in using social media for innovative community outreach, media relations, crisis communications, targeted branding and messaging. Parker spent 13 years reporting and anchoring in Washington, DC, most recently for ABC7 News where she won both an Emmy Award and an Edward R. Murrow Award.

ConncectedCOPS Awards 2013: Finalists for Social Media Campaign

ConnectedCOPS Social Media Campaign

This award will go to the law enforcement agency which has met its stated goals with a documented social media campaign. The campaign is designed to address a significant problem or educational issue within the agency’s jurisdiction. Nominations should include a description of how success was measured.

The finalists in the Social Media in Campaign Management category have proactively and strategically designed a campaign with social media having a significant part. They have carried out the plan and achieved the goals set forth.

There are three finalists in this category:

North Yorkshire Police, United Kingdom
The North Yorkshire Police (NYP) were nominated for their success with two separate social media campaigns. With its #TeamNYP campaign, the NYP grew its engagement with citizens significantly. The plan was strategically combined with traditional communication methods to draw more views to the force’s website and other content. A key piece of the project was the redesign of the home page of the force website featuring live social media content. With a separate campaign focused on mobile technology and a goal of reducing burglaries, the NYP created an iBook campaign for iPad users. The iBook is called “Securing your home” and features chapters on bogus callers, burglary prevention, property marking, vehicle security and rural crime. The project was such a success that more iBooks are forthcoming and several other UK forces are looking to the NYP for their leadership.

Waterloo Regional Police, Ontario, Canada
With a goal of engaging youth, building awareness and stimulating dialogue surrounding gang prevention, the Waterloo Regional Police (WRPS) created the “8 Days of SWAG” social media campaign. The campaign and its social media profiles were deliberately branded separate from the Waterloo Regional Police Service based on a perceived notion that if youth knew who would be hosting the campaign, they would be less likely to participate. Each day was assigned a theme, as a way to organize the broad topic of “gangs” and prizes were awarded every day. By the end of the 8 Days of SWAG campaign, the WRPS had engaged over 650 participants which in turn reached more than 83 thousand Twitter accounts. On Facebook, they reached over 5,400 people, of which 68% were between ages of 13 and 24. WRPS received numerous requests from students, asking them to visit their school, as well as requests to continue the campaign next year.

Collier County Sheriff, Florida, United States
In November 2012, the Collier County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) launched an ambitious multi-faceted public safety campaign aimed at bringing about a law that would make it illegal to text-message while driving in Florida. “Stop Texting & Driving” was a community-based, grass roots movement to address the growing demand for Florida to join the 39 states that have declared it illegal for drivers to text behind the wheel. Through their website, PSA’s and social media, citizens were asked to sign a call to action in support of anti-texting legislation. The Sheriff also invited community members to share their texting and driving experiences on the CSCO social media platforms. More than 150 people posted messages, many of which were heartbreaking, about how their lives had been affected by someone who was text-messaging while driving. Most significantly, Gov Rick Scott signed legislations on May 28th that makes it illegal to text-message while driving in Florida.

Finalists in the other awards categories will be announced throughout this week on this blog. Check back to see the finalists for Top Cop tomorrow. Winners will be announced September 25th at The SMILE Conference™ in Omaha, Nebraska.

Finalists previously announced:

The ConnectedCOPS Awards were created by LAwS Communications with the intent of recognizing the good work being done by individual officers and law enforcement agencies with social media. The international law enforcement community will be considered for these awards. Any officer or agency anywhere in the world is eligible.

Social Media Quick Tip: Facebook’s ‘Graph Search’ Raises Privacy Concerns

Facebook rolled out what it calls “graph search” last week, effectively turning user profiles inside out. Graph search was announced earlier this year but rolled out to the masses a few days ago. Facebook has a page on how graph search affects privacy, but surprise, surprise, they leave a lot out.

The best way to understand it is to try a few searches. As examples, put in “police officers who live in ” or “photos of ” and see the wealth of information you get. The important thing to understand is that each search is tailored to each user. So two people making the same searches will get different results. It all depends on how the searcher is personally linked to the subjects being searched.

Graph search doesn’t allow people to see any more than they would be able to otherwise, but it certainly makes it easier to find it and serves it all up at once. This is all the more reason to make sure your Facebook settings are locked down on your personal profiles.

Have you hidden your friends lists and your “likes” to prying eyes? Have you set your tagging so you can review tags of yourself and turned off facial recognition? Have you managed the settings of what others share about you? Have you prevented search engines from linking to your timeline? Have you gone through your entire timeline and limited the audience, deleted them or untagged yourself in photos? Have you limited who sees your future posts? If this sounds foreign to you, you’re likely open to the world.

And make no mistake, Facebook is sure to be adding to what information it can pull about its members into the graph search. Imagine if facial recognition is added, then all those photos your friends and family have posted of you that you think no one will ever see are suddenly fair game. Furthermore, there is no setting to opt out of graph search.

Graph search also has huge implications on child crimes. Facebook prevents profiles with ages set under 18 from being searchable by adults. But, as you know, stalkers and sexual predators create fake profiles anyway. If they set their age setting to between 13 and 17, graph search will present them a far greater access to potential victims.

Of course, the flip side is, this works in an investigator’s favor as well.

This Social Media Quick Tip was previously published on LawOfficer.com

How burglars use social media

Burglars go online to pinpoint potential victims

Criminals and law enforcement officials are early adopters of new technologies and social media in particular in their battle to outwit each other.

With recent revelations about PRISM and the activities of GCHQ you would think that law enforcement would have most to gain from the latest digital developments.

Surely, some time soon we’ll be living in a version of Minority Report where cops intervene before the crime is committed?

However, that Utopia (Dystopia?) seems to be a few years away.

In the meantime, there are plenty of ways in which burglars in particular can develop their lean systems to target and gather intelligence on potential victims and minimise the risks of getting caught.

  1. Twitter, Facebook and Foursquare are particularly straightforward ways of finding out if someone is away on holiday or business.
  2. Google StreetView makes advance reconnaissance a piece of cake.
  3. GPS data automatically embedded in social media platforms and photos provides further opportunities

The infographic below summarises some of the main techniques in current use.

Decentralized Social Communications: Scary Stuff!

Do you keep your social media presence “close to the vest” (e.g. only allowing Public Information Officers the ability to post content) or does your strategy include the ability for all agency officials to reach the community? The latter type of presence involves letting go of control to some extent and this, of course, requires a huge leap of faith from leadership, especially in top-down oriented public safety organizations. However, this type of strategy is currently being done quite successfully.

DECENTRALIZED COMMUNICATIONS: IS THIS THE EVOLUTION OF YOUR SOCIAL PRESENCE?
In the book “Social Media in the Public Sector Field Guide” Ines Mergel and Bill Greeves suggest that a decentralized approach to social media content production is evidence of an evolved use of social media in organizations. They state that agencies that have been using social media for a while often “make social media the responsibility of everyone” and offer the benefits of this decision:

A recent decision at the Department of Defense was to abandon the role of the social media director and instead transfer that position’s responsibilities onto many shoulders in the organization. It is very difficult for a single department or division to speak with the knowledge and authority of all the business units of an organization. “Official” responses often require time and research. They frequently result in formal answers that do not fit the casual tone inherent in social media. By formally distributing the tasks and response functions to those who have the knowledge required to have meaningful online conversations on social media channels, you can decrease maintenance costs, increase trust in those exchanges and reduce the number of missteps or rounds of interaction it takes before citizens get the “right” response from your agency. (pages 110-112)

Jim Garrow, who blogs at “The Face of the Matter” makes a similar case: “My point, and it naturally follows from last week’s post on having others write for your agency, is that we [PIOs] need to get the hell out of the way. Let your agency shine through every day. Give your experts the podium they deserve. Build them a following (or let them build a following).”

BUT HOW WOULD THIS WORK FOR PUBLIC SAFETY ORGANIZATIONS?
The Toronto Police Department provides an example of complete decentralization of social media content. As can be seen in the image below their agency’s website homepage has all the “big 3″ social media buttons: Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. These buttons take the user to their official account, most likely administered by a Public Information Officer.

Choose, however, the “Connect with us” tab right below it, and their world opens up. I counted 119 different social media accounts for this organization–119! What are all these people talking about? Ideally, the content they are posting should be directly related to their position or function in the organization, and with each of the samples I chose at random, that proved to be the case. Take for instance Sgt Jack West (@SgtJackWest)—who has the title of “Traffic Enforcement.” No shocker, he talks a lot about traffic and how people can stay safe–e.g “Don’t text and drive” etc.

Patricia Fleischmann or @caringcop on Twitter, has the title of “Vulnerable Persons Coordinator.” What does she post about? How elderly and other people who might be vulnerable to crime and natural disasters can be better prepared. She also Tweets quite a lot about people that are helping each other, organizations folks can turn to for assistance, and information from community meetings she attends. She has a healthy following of 762 people.

I could go on for while with examples, but feel free to explore of these great social feeds yourself by clicking here. So, how do they keep everyone in their “lane?” How do they keep all of these people from embarrassing the organization and posting inappropriate content? Yikes–this is scary territory!

I have been told by some of these Toronto Tweeters, that they do the following:

Before they get their social account, they are required to attend a 3-day intensive social media training class that provides them with not only information about how and why to use social networks, but also how NOT to use them. This would include Department and City posting policies.

Each of the accounts are clearly marked with the fact that the person works for the Toronto Police Department, however, they do often choose to use their own picture instead of the PD’s logo–giving the account a personal touch, which I think is critical for community outreach and engagement (it says to the public–we are people to).

Each account states that they do not monitor the account 24/7, and that if anyone needs emergency assistance they should dial 911. (See below–each person’s account information looks almost identical.)
Each Twitter profile links back to the official website.

This obviously is not a willy nilly hey, all-you-guys-go-Tweet-something strategy. Their strategy is obvious, their goals are clear; and it seems to me they are meeting the objectives of reaching out and connecting with the public on platforms that the public uses everyday.

See, it’s not so scary after all!

This post was previously published at iDisaster 2.0.

Kim Stephens is an independent emergency management consultant and the lead blogger of iDisaster 2.0 where she writes about the benefits as well as the challenges the emergency management community and other public sector entities might face when employing new information communications technologies before, during and after a crisis. She has over a decade of experience in the field of emergency management. Her experience has spanned federal, local and non-governmental organizations: from the US Environmental Protection Agency, to the Tennessee Montgomery County Office of Emergency Management, and the American Red Cross. She has a Master’s degree in Public Administration from Texas A&M University.

What To Do About Facebook Friend Hacks!

Hacks mimic identity of your friend to access your information

Friends connecting on Facebook, more than ever, is something that needs to be respected and trusted.

Recently a number of people including me have received friend requests on Facebook from people they know. Why is this unusual? Because these requests are from people who are ‘already’ connected and listed as friends.

The requests are from scammers attempting to gain access to your Facebook account and utilise your information that you share only with friends. They are using the scam of Ghost Accounts. Meaning they are Fake Imposter Accounts, that have copied everything from a friends Facebook Account, that is available on public view.

Once they are accepted into your account, they are in a position to glean as much information as needed to further their scam. They send friend requests to your friends and can make an imposter account from your details.

What to do
If you receive a request, firstly check with your friend to see if they have created another account.

If they have not – Report the Imposter account and warn all the people in your friend list to also report the account.

Some helpful linked from Facebook:

How to fix it
Change your Profile picture and Cover photo, as the fake account is likely to have copied these and is using them. Friends can then distinguish between the imposter and the correct Facebook account.

Check what is on Public View – this is done by choosing the ‘View As’ tab on your Profile Page.

View As Tab – Will display a public view of your Timeline.

Lock down your Friend list. To do this ~ Click the friends tab on your Profile and from the dropdown box choose the option of ‘Edit Privacy’ and then ‘Only Me’.

Click on the Friends Tab on your profile – Edit Privacy – Only Me

 

Friend Hacks
The more difficult issue comes from a friend who appears to have just joined Facebook and sends you a request. Be on alert, verify the account by sending the friend a text message or email. Do Not Send an inbox message to this new account request, as this does not verify the account! If you are not comfortable contacting the person to verify the account, should they really be on your friend list?!

(If you feel you have to friend them, once verified, place them in the ‘Restricted’ or ‘Acquaintance’ listing so they view only a limited profile.)

Some would say the above is too cumbersome and time consuming, but how much is your information worth? Isn’t going the extra yards to protect your account, personal posts and photos worth it?! …. I think so!

Real life scenario
A new person started at the office and you later receive a friend request from them. A check of their Timeline shows their account was only opened last monday. For the moment you ignore the account request. The next day you check the account and they have managed to friend 16 of your mutual friends.

Nobody has bothered to check via text, email or other contact, to verify this person or the account. It is later discovered it is an imposter account.

This ‘friend hack’ now has access to a number of colleagues information from that work environment, along with access to their family photos, friends, other information and personal posts.

This is a real scenario, discovered this week! These work colleagues had no idea and are concerned as their information may have been downloaded, copied, printed out or shared by the fake account!

More than ever being a friend on social media, needs to hold an element of respect, trust and appreciation that you have been chosen to be an online friend.

The friends you have on Facebook need to have your back… if you can’t verify them or trust them.. ‘unfriend’ and get rid of them! This is for online safety and management of your digital reputation, not only for you, but for your family and friends.

Janita Docherty founder and Director of CyberActive Services is a trained Crime Prevention Executive with more than 18 years experience in the field of law and criminal investigation. Janita specialises in Facebook and Internet Safety instruction and is recognised for her work with law enforcement Units dedicated in the fields of E-Crime, Sex Crime, State Intelligence and Tactical Intelligence areas. Janita has an intricate knowledge on the workings of Facebook from a criminal intelligence perspective and is a leader in her field regarding Facebook training to Police and specialist law enforcement departments both in Australia and the United States. Janita has completed training with the Internet Crime Against Children (ICAC) Taskforce, and holds a number of Certifications, including a Diploma in Frontline Management, a full qualification in Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED), is a Youth Mental Health First Aider and has been presented with a National Service Medal. She is held in high regard within social media and law enforcement domains, for her enthusiasm to educate professionals, regarding online safety and digital reputation management.

What do the public like about police Facebook pages?

If you’re interested in British Police use of social media, you should definitely follow Mike Downes (@mikedownesmedia) who produces an incredibly useful monthly statistical update on UK police social media accounts.

In his latest post, Mike has focused on the sharp increase in the number of people “Liking” police Facebook posts – where 16 forces had month-on-month growth of over 20%.

I thought I’d do a little analysis and look at exactly what sort of police posts people like.

 

facebook-police

 

What do the public like on police Facebook pages

Mike found that three police forces had the highest rate of increase in Facebook “likes” compared to the previous month: Hampshire, Greater Manchester and Strathclyde. I looked at the Facebook pages for these three forces and identified the five most popular posts from each in the month under review. Where more than one post covered the same subject, I aggregated the number of likes and treated them as one post.

Hampshire

 

Hampshire Fb

 

In Hampshire (@hantspolice), the post that provoked the most public response was a photo of a police car parked in a disabled bay at MacDonalds which the Constabulary had to explain occurred when an officer went to investigate an offence, not to get a Big Mac and fries.

Tragically, the second most popular post related to an officer who had died on duty in a Road Traffic Accident.

Two of the three other most popular posts related to missing people who had been found and one was a plea for information relating to an assault on a pensioner.

Greater Manchester

 

GM

 

In Greater Manchester (@gmpolice), by far the most popular post had photos of a new police dog’s first day at work.

Interestingly, the second most popular post was also about dogs – in this case, a story about local dog thefts.

As in Hampshire, two of the top five posts related to missing persons with the other a plea for information on the anniversary of an unsolved murder case.

Strathclyde Police

Once we look at the Strathclyde data (now @policescotland), some themes start emerging:

 

Strathclyde Fb

 

Yet again,we have one post relating to dogs and one to a missing person. The second most popular post related to the amalgamation of all seven Scottish police forces into Police Scotland and the other two were concerned with police successes: the conviction and sentence of murderers and the arrest of sex offenders.

Summary

So, what have we learnt from this not-so-scientific mini analysis?

The public seem to respond to some key categories of Facebook post:

  • Information pleas and good news about (particularly vulnerable) missing persons – 5 out of these 15 posts.
  • Posts relating to animals (in this case all dogs) – 3 out of 15.
  • Controversy (amalgamation of Scottish forces, parking in disabled bay) – 2 out of 15.
  • Successes – criminals arrested or sentenced, particularly in high profile cases – 2 out of 15.

It is no surprise that UK police forces are such advocates of social media.

Facebook allows them to engage with the public with ease, show a very wide range of their work and quickly spread request for information.

It’s also a great medium for celebrating success.

 

What does your force usually post on Facebook?

You might also like BrightPlanet’s infographic analysing the 1St Global Police Tweetathon which shows the favourite topics for police services to tweet about.

Please contribute via the comments section below.

 

 

Social media is critical to police IT systems dealing with newsworthy issues

Hold the front page

Crime has always been front page news.

Always sold newspapers.

The advent of TV – remember the real time coverage of OJ Simpson’s arrest – accelerated the speed with which news spread:

And social media has ensured that bad news goes global in minutes – as anyone following the Oscar Pistorius case can testify.

Let social media bear the weight

The always-on, global thirst for bad news can cause problems for police forces who need to appeal for information in high profile cases.

A simple post for information on a force website can spread virally within minutes and become global news with the result that the website crashes under the weight of public interest.

An example was the murder of Joanna Yeates over the Christmas period in 2010.

Even though Avon & Somerset Police rented additional infrastructure, the website crashed at peak times as information was requested about her whereabouts.

The force opted to use a set of social media networks to publish important information.

YouTube was used as the network to distribute CCTV footage with requests for information.

Information about the case was also published on Twitter and Facebook.

All these global social media networks have massive infrastructures which can better balance localised high loads.

Social media therefore becomes an important communications tool for small forces with high-newsworthy stories.

But it is also relevant for large-scale emergencies.

Identifying rioters

During and after the 2011 riots in London, the Metropolitan police used Flickr to publish images of suspects.

With announcements on Twitter, the photos were extremely popular.

The Met uploaded a first batch of images on August 9, 2012 at 12 noon.

By midnight the same day, they had been viewed more than 4 million times.

Indeed, this level of interest even caused Flickr some problems.

The Met’s website traffic increased dramatically during and just after the riots.

Hosting images on a separate server through Flickr helped ensure their site was not overloaded and could run at optimal levels, ensuring the public could still access information on how the police were dealing the riots and public safety information about what they should do.

The advent of social media means that police can request and broadcast information much more quickly with a considerably greater reach without additional and expensive investment in technology.

Changes to hiding from public search on Facebook

Recent changes to the Facebook privacy settings, has made it difficult for users to conceal their personal profiles, as Facebook has removed the ability to hide from public search.  Facebook profiles have the ability to be located through the Facebook search function and in some cases via search engine sites such as Google.

However there is some reprieve.  Within the Facebook Privacy Settings, you have the option to remove yourself from a search engine link. This means that persons using a search engine to look for you via a name search, should be unable to link to your Facebook profile.

Go to > Privacy Settings  > Who Can Look Me Up?  > Do you want other search engines to link to your timeline?  > Uncheck the box.  (as per diagram below)

Be aware this may not remove a link to your profile due to any public content that you post.  As a result please ensure you check your privacy settings and only post your information to friends.