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June 03, 2011
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Twitter strategy fails UK cops during bomb threat

Police refused to comment about explosive device, then launched communication using hashtag #watfordbomb

By PoliceOne Staff

WATFORD, U.K. - During a recent bank standoff in the U.K., cops attempted to employ the communication power of Twitter to keep the public informed and calm - an approach that backfired due to some careless social media tactics.

According to The Guardian, Hertfordshire police refused to comment on whether or not the man, a 23-year-old who had threatened staff and refused to leave, was holding an explosive device.

The department then started issuing Twitter updates - using the very revealing hashtag #watfordbomb. Immediately, users replied to the messages with commentary about the irony of the hashtag, which seemed to effectively confirm that there was indeed an explosive device involved.

The department hurriedly issued a clarification: "We are using the hashtag #watfordbomb as it was created by users and we want to make sure our messages are seen and to keep you updated."

The standoff was ultimately resolved without injury after three hours, but no doubt the incident served as a good lesson about Twitter's potential pitfalls.

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