It’s a shame the police don’t want to chat about my porn problem

Remember how in 24 things would often get kick started by “chatter”? Yeah, chatter – mutterings on the Internet that something is afoot. In espionage drama (and heck, probably real life spying too) the ‘net is monitored for tidbits of this and that which might fall into a sort of a pattern that tells you there’s a problem.

I’ve heard people say (and you can find writings about this on the Internet) that the police could (do?) use social media for intelligence – that’s basically using chatter, looking for stuff that might mean stuff.

Today a small niggly thing happened on my road. Somebody had been up the road in the night and put a page of a pornographic magazine under the windscreen wiper of every car. On both sides of the road.

It’s nothing overly concerning or bad, just a thing that’s a bit weird and might make for some difficult conversations (imagine getting in your car with the kids and being greeted by cocks. That). I’m not sure “putting porn on a car” is a crime beyond littering even. There are a fair few of my local cops on Twitter, so I thought it’d be a good channel to tip them a wink without going to the hassle of phoning them and making a beef out of it.

Well, that’s not allowed. 

That left me a bit flummoxed really. Surely informal chatter like this is one of the best reasons for police to be on Twitter? Little titbits of information, that might someday land in a pattern. Isn’t that what community policing is supposed to be about? 

You see this thing, that isn’t a crime, suggests stuff even on it’s own. Let’s make some rash suggestions and deductions here but if you take circumstantial evidence you have:

1. Start of school holidays
2. A daft practical joke
3. Happened after 10pm (when I parked my car)
4. Porn

Chances are this was the work of teenage boys. That’s a fair assumption.

Now think about what that means:

1. Local shops aren’t controlling age restricted products very well
2. The local teenage boys are already a bit bored and it’s only week 1 of the holidays

It’s meaningless and harmless now, and I honestly thought it was just a silly jape, but what if the chatter suggests other daft little things are happening? And what if those things start to get a bit worse as the summer drags on? And you’ve missed a chance to get in early and do something? Like investing community support time in youth work and working with the councillors to get more things up and running in the ward?

Or do you just tweet to pump out messages?

Social media listening: dear brands, please stop rewarding me for being a grumpy git


I’m getting worried about social media listening strategies. Not in a paranoid, surveillance society way. I’m worried about social media listening strategies because corporations reward me every time I moan; whinges are the new currency, and companies are incentivising me to be grumpy.

Discounting spammers who @ me on twitter every time I mention Apple, iPad, or x-factor I’ve had three moments where I’ve had a corporate interaction as a result of social media listening and each one has come off the back of a moan.

  • When I moaned that Coffee Lounge’s wifi was unreliable and their coffee pretty poor, Urban Coffee Co tweeted me, luring me over with a free croissant.
  • When I tweeted a whinge that a Virgin Wines / uSwitch freebie case of wine I’d received was pretty poor, Naked Wines contacted me with an offer on a case of much better wine that was pretty hard to refuse.
  • When I fired off a 140 character rant about a shitty coffee in Pret, they @ replied me back asking for an address. On Friday I got a £5 gift card and a handwritten note of apology.