Police departments in Washington state are asking the public not to tweet during crimes such as shootings and manhunts because law enforcement agencies claim it might help suspects.
The call for voluntary censorship is part of the "Tweet Smart" campaign, which started in July. However, there was no warning to TV news stations that often broadcast manhunts and shootings live on the air.
"All members of the public may not understand the implications of tweeting out a picture of SWAT team activity," Nancy Korb, of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, told the Associated Press.
"It's a real safety issue, not only for officers but anyone in the vicinity," added Korb, who said she wasn't aware of any actual injuries to police officers because of social media postings.
Korb added that there have been close calls and investigations have been hampered.
"I saw it personally as far back as Lakewood," stated Washington State Patrol spokesman Bob Calkins, who was apparently referring to a 2009 manhunt for a suspect.
"We have to respond with a smart phone almost as fast as we respond with a gun," added Calkins.
However, Seattle photographer Michael Holden countered, "I think the criminals are probably having more pressing concerns than checking Twitter."
Journalists in Ferguson, Mo., have had to use Twitter and other social media sites to report on protests this week because police have blocked TV trucks and escorted TV crews away from the area.
Wesley Lowery, a reporter for The Washington Post, was arrested yesterday in a McDonald’s by a Ferguson police officer. Lowery says the cop slammed him against a soda machine.
Lowery recorded the beginning of the confrontation when the police officer ordered him out in 45 seconds, but didn't give him nearly that amount of time. Lowery posted the video (below) on The Washington Post video site PostTV.
Huffington Post reporter Ryan Reilly was also arrested, but both journalists were eventually freed and not charged.