(Stuff) Counties Manukau Police have launched their own Twitter account following a bomb scare yesterday that led to widespread panic after a famous Kiwi musician nearby tweeted that someone had been shot.
Police were called to the Mangere work and Income after a staff member noticed a suspicious package about 2pm.
The Ascot Avenue building was evacuated and a Police dog inspected the package, a suitcase, but found no trace of explosives.
Specialist officers also X-rayed it.
At the time, Che Fu tweeted he had been locked in the nearby Te Wananga O Aotearoa as a gunman was on the loose and someone had been shot.
Police said the tweet caused “a frenzy of misinformation”.
“The tweet spread like wildfire and Police were inundated with calls from concerned members of the public and media outlets, literally within minutes,” a police spokesperson says.
“Officers were even diverted to check out the veracity of the claims that a gunman was on the loose.
“No such gunman ever existed.”
By 4pm police and other emergency services who attended the scene were stood down and WINZ staff went back to work.
“The events of yesterday highlight that social media can be hugely influential and can create undue anxiety,” Acting District Commander Superintendent Nick Perry says.
“From a policing perspective it certainly wasn’t helpful to have misinformation promulgated in this way. However, social media is a reality of our times and as an organisation we want to do what we can to try and keep pace.”
Perry says by having a presence on Twitter police plan to “communicate as much as we can, as quickly as we can, in the interests of allaying people’s fears and anxieties”.
“We also know that an increasing number of New Zealanders do not engage with traditional forms of media so by having a social media presence we hope our messages reach more New Zealanders.”
Perry pointed out that police release information on events as soon as they are sure what has transpired and urged members of the public to also “take some responsibility for what they say”.
“This is particularly so when what they are saying is likely to incite panic and fear unnecessarily.”
Counties Manukau police can be followed on Twitter through their user name, ManukauPolice.