Viral Media

Cell phones with hi-definition cameras are capable of recording events that have never been captured before. Police officers involved in use of force incidents are being recorded and uploaded to social media daily. Some of these dynamic events capture the drama that police officers experience every day but often without context. Viral videos and uninformed social media accounts about use of force are fueling conspiracy theorists and anti-police groups like COP Block.
This presentation examines the characteristics of events that turn viral. Cases studies include:

• The misdemeanor arrest of a bar patron which turned viral and drew international attention. The situation resulted in protests, harassment of police officers, their families and attacks on the department’s Facebook account.
• The creation of an anti-police website publishing death threats and personal information about officers and their families. This case study will follow one officer’s efforts to have the website shut down and pursue criminal charges.
• Examination of positive police stories that went viral and how to leverage this phenomenon for good.
The presentation will provide law enforcement with a better understanding of viral media and offer ways to adapt and steer the message in a more positive way.