Police departments and jailers are capitalizing on social media users’ appetite for negativity and extreme comments by using themes and memes such as #ThugThursdays, #FelonFridays, and “Ladies’ Night” to publicly shame offenders in ways that critics claim will undermine trust in law enforcement, BuzzFeed News reports.
Law enforcement agencies argue that they are successfully using humor and memes on social media in an effort to humanize officers, engage the community to get shares and tips, and find and arrest wanted offenders. But critics say the shaming is based often on racism, sexism, and class differences that stir public outrage in harmful ways. “These departments are engaging in campaigns of public humiliation,” said Lynda Garcia, the policing campaign director at the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. Individual officers have repeatedly been disciplined for problematic social media behavior. But Garcia said it’s “unprecedented” to see police departments as an entity using platforms this way.