The police department in the city of Oneida, New York, decided to have some fun with its Facebook page and post a joking request for drugs. However, they didn’t expect their post to land in hot water with Facebook itself.
The cops, borrowing the idea from a Pennsylvania police department, posted a status saying “Does anyone in Oneida know where we can buy any drugs? (asking for a friend)…#Not a cop.”
Clearly the post was intended as a joke, but also a serious reminder for residents to send along tips and info if they had it. However, Facebook didn’t see it that way, and took down the post two days after it was published. Facebook then restored the post briefly before banning it once again.
Despite the confusing back-and-forth moderation from Facebook, the cops say the post was a huge success.
“We thought it was very creative,” Oneida City Police Chief Paul Thompson said. “And it was successful — we got more than 800 likes and over a dozen private messages tipping us about suspected drug activity.”
Thompson also said he was “surprised” the post was taken down, “especially when you see some of the stuff that’s on Facebook today.”
Indeed, it often doesn’t make sense what content Facebook does and does not allow on its pages. Banning harmless (and even helpful) content from a police department is one such confusing case.