The Winnebago County Sheriff's Department and the Oshkosh Police Department are learning the hard way that social media isn't all that it is cracked up to be. While the medium can certainly be a powerful tool for communicating important information to citizens in a timely fashion, the interactive nature of Facebook and Twitter are proving to be very problematic.
Postings about incidents, arrests and unsolved crimes have usually devolved into ugly "conversations" about the makeup of our community--and who is "to blame" for crime in our area. You would also find plenty of Monday Morning Quarterbacks trolling the sites offering up their "expertise" on what officers and deputies should actually be doing with their time. I won't be repeating any of the comments that I have seen posted to the departments' accounts by users--but suffice it to say, it would not make you very proud of your fellow Oshkoshians.
The departments initially asked people to keep things civil on the sites--but those requests continued to go unheeded. So now the Sheriff's Department is dedicating more time to monitoring the comments posted on Facebook and deleting those deemed to be inappropriate or offensive. Repeat offenders will also be banned from posting on the sites.
I'd really prefer that my law enforcement officers be spending their time doing something other than deciding who can respond to their social media posts--and what is and isn't appropriate for public consumption. On the My Two Cents Blogger site I accept comments on my posts--but nothing shows up on the site itself until I have a chance to review it and okay it. And quite honestly, I don't have a lot of time in the morning when I write these to be going through 100-comments and clicking through to links that people want to post to make sure that I'm not encouraging my followers to visit a child porn site.
Besides, I don't think anyone is going to provide a major tip in an internet forum. So it's far better for both departments to just turn off the comments feature on their social media sites--and make it all it really needs to be, a way one source of information. If the trolls want to make their stupid comments, they can post them on their own pages for their three, like-minded followers to "enjoy".