The Gregg County Sheriff’s Office in Texas has a new Facebook page. No, the law enforcement department wasn’t late to social media – rather it’s been locked out of its original Facebook page, which was also linked to Crime Stoppers, where it received important tips to solve crimes.
This has presented a serious problem in other ways as much of the sheriff’s office information sharing was done through the page. Additionally, the Gregg County Sheriff’s Office has gone from some 18,000 likes and upwards of 20,000 followers to zero! The new page, which was created on September 8, has some 192 likes and just 203 followers.
“We have a lot of followers to the Gregg County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page, it is very important for the sheriff’s office because it is and outlet to the community,” Lieutenant Josh Tubb told KLTV.com last week.
The department was logged out due to a not so uncommon problem. The page was originally set up with a fictitious name, which allowed CID to use it. Because the person who set up the page doesn’t exist there has been no way for the department to get back in.
Every effort made by the sheriff’s office failed, and instead a new page had to be set up.
“We’ve reached out to Facebook, we haven’t been able to get anybody on the phone. Sent emails. Their response is, ‘it has to be the person on the Facebook,'” added Tubb.
While a new page has been set up, it could take time before the public even knows the original page is essentially no longer accessible by the department.
“The situation in Gregg County illustrates a couple of issues,” explained technology industry analyst Charles King of Pund-IT. “First, it highlights the dark flipside of the benefits social companies love to highlight, including simple sign-up, ease of use, broad access, etc. Those qualities encourage people and organizations to get involved without carefully reading the EULA (end user license agreement) or thinking about long term consequences. Potential problems and serious difficulties usually come to light after people run off the road and, like the sheriff’s office in Gregg County, find themselves in a ditch with no way to get towed out. Bottom line – I expect there are thousands of organizations in similar situations that still have all four wheels on the pavement. For now.”
However, there is also the fact that Facebook couldn’t resolve the issue.
King said this is part of the generally poor and inattentive services that social companies typically offer customers.
“In order to maintain low overhead costs, many or most of those processes are automated or managed by relatively small, overworked teams,” he added. “I say ‘typically’ because when problematic issues are publicized or widely discussed, companies often jump in to do the right thing. This kind of reactive service doesn’t qualify as a best practice in anyone’s book but beleaguered customers are often happy with any help they can get.”
This should be seen as a warning to any business, organization or entity that maintains a Facebook page that access shouldn’t depend on one user, and certainly not a fictitious one.
“The lesson here is when organizations, especially the police, don’t follow proper procedures, things go wrong,” said Roger Entner, social media expert and technology analyst at Recon Analytics. “It’s easy: Follow the rules, use proper names, document, hand over the necessary items to the next person in the chain of custody.”