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French cops tweet photo of murder victim's corpse

AFP/The Local · 26 Feb 2014, 11:59

Published: 26 Feb 2014 11:59 GMT+01:00

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(WARNING for sensitive readers: The picture is embedded below)


French police looking for help in solving a murder in the eastern French city of Strasbourg took the somewhat unusual step of tweeting out a photo of the victim's face after he had died.

“The police, as part of a homicide investigation, are trying to identify the person in this photo (with permission from prosecutors),” police from Bas-Rhin department tweeted from their official account at 5:10 pm on Friday, French daily Le Parisien reported.

French tweeters began spreading the word as the message was retweeted over a dozen times within the hour. But whether that was due to horrified users who couldn’t believe what they were seeing or simply citizens trying to help, we may never know.

Though it appears it may have been the former, as the tweet was pulled from the cops' official Twitter account within a matter of hours. 

The cops refused to comment to Le Parisien on the matter.

France's national police force have been connected on Twitter since the beginning of 2012, but at the start of this year decided to open up Twitter accounts for their branches around the country. The aim was to improve communication with the public and let them know of successful operations.

Tweeting photos of corpses may not have been what police social media chiefs had in mind.

It appears police, not only in France, could do with some urgent social media training as these kind of gaffes have become quite frequent in recent months.

Cops in the Belgian city of Blankberge sparked a fury in September 2013 when they posted photos of a dead woman on their official Facebook page in the hope a member of the public would identify her.

Surprised by the controversy, police said they were just doing their jobs.

“We had exhausted all the possible means to identify the victim. Our investigation had even spread to foreign countries without success. The only option left was to ask for the public’s help on Facebook and in the press,” the local  police Chief Hans Quaghebeur told the Belgian media.

In January The Local Spain reported how the the country's National Police set the country's twittersphere alight after they provided their more than 700,000 followers with advice on how to avoid getting caught with drugs at the airport.

A French national police social media manager made a slightly lighter-hearted gaffe last summer, when he or she sent out the results of an online game to the thousands of their followers.

The account manager took the risk of playing online game “Banana Kong” on his or her smartphone, which prompted the following tweet in August 2013: “I just got 155 points on #bananakong. Download it from the App Store and try to beat me!”

The tweet was quickly deleted, but the gaffe became a bit of a joke on social media.

(National police, your vehicle registration papers and your Banana Kong high score please.)

AFP/The Local (joshua.melvin@thelocal.com)

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