If only there was a crow’s nest for social media, a perch from which a willing and helpful guide could yell, “Mind the hashtag! Thar be minefields and rocky shoals in that there tweet!”

Maybe then, someone at the New York Police Department wouldn’t be having second thoughts about creating that #myNYPD hashtag.

Seeking to spread a positive image of the police force, the NYPD twitter account issued a call for photos of New Yorkers with officers. “Do you have a photo w/ a member of the NYPD? Tweet us & tag it #myNYPD,” it said. “It may be featured on our Facebook.” Well, the NYPD received a bevy of tweets all right — of police brutality, which the Post’s Abby Phillip documented earlier. A few examples:

It was another instance of dark levity for Twitter, a brief gotcha moment for users who have not forgotten about the police department’s transgressions that have cultivated a deep sense of mistrust among many minorities: the shootings of



, the

protesters, the

that was, until recently,

, or the

who were fired after



Companies and large organizations realize that they want to have some sort of social media presence, because if they harness it well, it can be a highly effective promotion, that makes them seem accessible and “with it.” See: Oreo, Cheerios, Honeymaid, or any of the big Hollywood franchises such as “Twilight” or “The Hunger Games.”

But if you’re on the wrong side of some of the Tweeters, that outreach can quickly backfire, as JP Morgan discovered with #AskJPMorgan or Comedy Central discovered with that now-notorious Colbert Show tweet, or R&B crooner R. Kelly found with #AskRKelly. Who needs dynamite when you  have insular corporate cultures combined with a lack of awareness about how you’re perceived within in a particular online community? 

The NYPD finally responded to the fiasco, after first electing to retweet the sort of pictures they were seeking and ignore the others. Deputy chief Kim Y. Royster sent a statement to Wall Street Journal criminal justice reporter Pervaiz Shallwani:

The NYPD is creating new ways to effectively communicate with the community. Twitter provides an open forum for an uncensored exchange and this is an open dialogue good for our city.