Today's guest blog post comes from Corporal Frank Domizio. He has been with the Philadelphia Police Department for 16 years and is currently assigned to the Department's Office of Media Relations and Public Affairs where he is the Social Media Community Manager. Frank is also a regular lecturer at Drexel University's LeBow College of Business on the topics of social media and content strategy. He can be reached at Frank.Domizio@phillypolice.com or 215-686-3388.
We receive two kinds of questions from the public via Twitter. The first are questions from those seeking quality information, from a trusted source, on how to navigate the highways and byways of policing. The second are questions from those seeking to bait us in to an extraneous and off-topic discussion not meant for the hallowed halls of the Twitterverse. How do you tell difference? Here are a few tactics that we at the Philadelphia Police Department have found effective to quickly vet someone engaging us through Twitter.
Most popular Twitter clients will allow you to click a Twitter handle and see the user's stats page. Using Tweetdeck, my stats page looks like this:
• The first and easiest step in our vetting process is looking at the person's handle and name. Are they using a real name? Does their handle allude to something negative? This is your first clue as to the legitimacy of the person on the other end.
• Next, does the person follow you? If the person asking the question does not follow you, that is certainly a red flag.
• After that, I look at the person's bio and picture. Are they still rolling with the “Twitter egg?” Is their bio blank or does it say, “If I am tweeting at you, you better not take me seriously.” (One of our regular troll's bio has that line, thank you!)
• Take a gander at the person's numbers. Are they following no one and being followed by no one? Is this their very first tweet? These could be signs of someone who started an account just to mess with you. Use caution with this one, it could also indicate someone that has joined Twitter just to ask you a question.
• Lastly, look at the person's last five tweets. Is there a naked picture in one of those? Does every tweet contain the f-bomb? Does the last one say, “Watch this, I'm gonna screw with the police? These are all indicators that the person may not be asking a question for a legitimate purpose.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of warning signals. Also, one of these signs in and of itself does not mean that Darth Vader is on the other end of that tweet. Use these tools and let common sense prevail. What are some of the methods that you use to spot a troll?