Editor’s note: The memorandum below was found, crumpled into a densely compressed ball, in a men’s-room stall in the Arapahoe County courthouse. We were unable to verify the authenticity of its contents by press time. But in this age of instant communication of unfiltered, user-generated content, what the heck.
To: All Staff, DDAs, BFFs, FWBs
From: George B.
Re: Guidelines for Use of Social Media
Recently I got taken to the woodshed by Judge Carlos Samour over a tweak that I twittered out by mistake during the Holmes trial. I thought I was texting, and honestly, I get that little bird icon mixed up with the Angry Birds all the time. I apologized and deleted the offending twit posthaste. But the mass media, which seems to be in league with mass murderers, made a big deal of it, and then people’s husbands were buzzing about it, and we lost some jurors, and it all turned into a big virality.
So now that the prosecution has rested, this seems like an opportune time to remind all my minions of the proper Inter-Netiquette expected from those of us representing the people of the Eighteenth Judicial District. Especially in the middle of a capital case, when we all have to put our best foot forward and not in our mouth. I have consulted with our tech folks, and here are some basic guidelines and principles to follow:
For the moment, this is still a semi-private form of communication, something just between you, your recipient and the NSA. But please avoid using any emoticons or emojis, as they are easily misinterpreted. I once had a smiley face in a message about some dirtbag who needed to fry, and you wouldn’t believe the whoop-de-do that caused. Chat abbreviations are better and more “now.” LOL, BTW, TMI, SWAK — they’re all good, though you might want to avoid OMG for religious reasons. When you need to make it absolutely clear that you’re expressing your own opinion and not speaking for the DA’s office, the tech boys suggest using IMHO — which, I’m relieved to discover, doesn’t mean you are calling yourself a prostitute.
Great for recapping sports scores and congratulating other prosecutors on successful convictions. But keep in mind that all those tweaks go out to “followers” who may not be loyal at all. They may even “retweak” what you twitted, and how can you get it right in 140 characters anyway? Best to avoid using this highly volatile platform for anything directly related to the Holmes prosecution. Most of all, avoid hashtags like #dieHolmesdie, #justiceisdeath and #needleforBozo. Someone might take it wrong.
In 2012 I took some heat from my opponent in the DA’s race because of a random comment on my campaign Facebook page. All it said was, “George, we need you in office now!” — referring, of course, to the looming prosecution of the Aurora theater shooter. The commenter was anonymous, yet somehow showed up identified as “George Brauchler for DA.” Oopsie. I didn’t put it up, and I took it down as soon as it was brought to my attention. But what does all that tell you? That you should have your privacy settings on Facebook adjusted to top-secret, no-tell-motel impenetrability. I have found this to be very good for self-esteem building, as you have to share with yourself and “like” yourself a lot, because no one else is going to do it.
This is a really fun image-sharing site that lots of people use to exchange ideas and preferences about fashion, home decorating, kicky boots, patriotic posters, wedding parties, etc. Completely innocuous, as long as you keep business out of it. I know a guy who had a whole pinboard dedicated to lethal-injection gurneys, and it didn’t do him any favors.
I used to think that having your own channel on YouTube was the cat’s pajamas. Especially if you have cute videos of cats in pajamas, or maybe 74 hours of psychiatric interviews with a demonstrably sane mass killer. But this Instagram thing seems to be catching fire with the young people. Like they say, I can’t even. (I don’t even know what that means, but there was a whole article in the New York Times about it.) This seems to be the best way to share those Kodak moments that really express who we are and what we do, whether it’s comforting the victims of crime or pursuing a reckoning in the courtroom or showing off our camo gear from our days in the Army Reserve. As with other forms of social media, some discretion is advisable here; the last thing we want in the Holmes case is a mistrial. Actually, the last thing we want is for the jury to buy into some cockamamie insanity plea, but we don’t want a mistrial, either. So just remember not to share anything with Instagram that you wouldn’t want to share with the defense. For everything else, use Snapchat.
I have been a member of the world’s largest professional network for many years now and have yet to see a downside. If anyone figures out the upside, let me know.
I don’t have any idea what this is or how it works. None of the tech people did, either.
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