You can be sent to jail for impersonating a police officer in the real world, but luckily for one marketing agency doing so on Twitter doesn’t appear to be a crime...
A marketing company has outed itself as the company behind the fake @nswpolice Twitter account, claiming the exercise as a successful “social media experiment’ which examined the relationship between the public and government bodies.
In a posting on its company blog
, Sydney branding firm Mentally Friendly revealed it was behind the @nswpolice account which had come under investigation by the real
The account used the official police logo and shared material such as road safety advice and information about police search powers.
Earlier in the week, NSW Police Public Affairs Director Strath Gordon admitted that while the information itself was harmless, the concern was that account’s 2,000 followers appeared to believe the account was real.
“Our concern was that people might believe this information to be official information from NSW Police. We've been communicating with Twitter … they’re quite clear in their terms and conditions that impersonation and misrepresentation is an issue (and) we're talking to Twitter about their impersonation policy.”
Mentally Friendly spokesman Nick Gower said “The intent was never to misrepresent the NSW Police Force, but to create a simple and genuine dialogue with which to gauge the public’s response.”
However he said the account’s 2,000 followers, and the fact that many used the service to report accidents and share traffic warnings and even make complaints about police officers and procedures, “proved that there is a place for government bodies in social media in Australia.”
Gower says that Mentally Friendly has now given the account’s password to the NSW Police “for official Police purposes”.
Curiously for a company which alleges itself to be so hip in the social media world, no comment are allowed under Mentally Friendly’s blog posting. Perhaps they’re concerned over what real people might say about the fake NSW Police account...