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West Midlands Police's £45k bill for social media

The cash has been handed to Birmingham-based CrowdControlHQ to provide security and oversight of all of the forces official Twitter and Facebook accounts

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West Midlands Police has handed over £45,000 to a firm to help it control the Twitter and Facebook accounts of its officers.

The cash has been handed to Birmingham-based CrowdControlHQ to provide security and oversight of all of the forces official Twitter and Facebook accounts.

The payments, revealed in a Freedom of Information request, have topped £45,900 since September 5, 2011.

It said all of the forces Facebook and Twitter accounts are plugged into CrowdControlHQ to ensure that social media assets are kept safe and secure. The accounts are then monitored by the press office to ensure that nothing posted “conflicts with the corporate message or style” of the force.

West Midlands Police faced a massive backlash earlier this year after it banned an award-winning officer from Tweeting – after he highlighted resource problems via the social media site.

Inspector Michael Brown had his account, @MentalHealthCop suspended in February.

But his Twitter feed, which has more than 20,000 followers, was reinstated within a week.

Police chiefs insisted that the account was only reactivated because the inspector accepted “informal advice” following an internal investigation.

It emerged during the controversy that officers have to sign an 11-page social media agreement and also have to provide login details.

CrowdControlHQ explains the work it has done with the force on its own website in helping to protect the force from spamming and malicious postings.

It says: “Each authorised officer can post or tweet by logging in to the system, but the central communications team retains the passwords for all social media accounts.

“By plugging all social media networks into the CrowdControlHQ dashboard, the central communications team now has visibility over the entire posting and engagement activity and is able to drill down on chosen accounts or content.

“By setting up keyword dictionaries, accounts are monitored constantly by the system and offen- sive or abusive content is either removed automatically or sent for review by key members of the team.

Speaking about the official Twitter accounts the force said: “These are used for officers to communicate directly with the people we serve, providing them with proactive news and information.

“Officers have always provided official account passwords in case any inappropriate material needs removing or if any technical issues.

“We do not and have never requested user names or passwords for personal social media accounts from our officers or staff.”

 

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