The Oakland University Police Department (OUPD) is cracking down on its social media guidelines after posting and removing a potentially offensive post from its Twitter account.
The post warned of bad road conditions on Tuesday, March 3, showing a picture of boxer Mike Tyson captioned, “Thlow down and thake your thime! Drive thafely everyone! The roads are thlippery.”
Gaining the attention of local news, CBS Detroit published a story about the tweet a day later.
OUPD removed the tweet when they noticed it two hours later and released this statement:
“The tweet from approximately 7:40 p.m. on Tuesday, March 3 was not authorized by the Oakland University Police Department police chief or administrative lieutenant in charge of social media. We are investigating the source of the post. As soon as the posting was found by officials, it was removed. The login credentials to the account have been changed.”
Colleen Campbell, digital public relations manager for OU’s communications and marketing department, said she developed social media guidelines and resources for faculty and staff to reference when contributing to accounts associated with OU.
“We simply can’t foresee every possible social media scenario and document it in a comprehensive how-to guide,” Campbell said in an email. “Social media changes every single day. We need to stay flexible to that and rely on our ability to make a judgment call.”
Now less OUPD members can contribute to its social media. Chief of police Mark Gordon and Nicole Thompson, administrative lieutenant who’s in charge of OUPD social media, must approve everything before it is posted.
“We feel we’ve adequately addressed the situation for the future,” Gordon said.
Gordon said the department felt the post could have been insulting because it made fun of Tyson’s speech impediment, and that the department has to demonstrate a level of professionalism on their social media.
“It’s the expectation of the community we serve,” he said.
OUPD uses social media to stay connected to students, according to Gordon. They became popular on campus for the pictures of students’ pleas to avoid parking citations, as well as participating in trends such as the ALS ice bucket challenge earlier in the school year.
Brian Bierley, director of media relations, said that OUPD’s social media has been mostly positive. OUPD needs an active social media presence in case it needs to warn students of an emergency.
OUPD also used social media to keep the community informed of October’s assault and the recent ceiling collapse in Oak View Hall. They also post information about road or weather conditions.
“It’s so powerful,” Bierley said. “And that’s why we want to be so careful.”