The Hong Kong police force launched its official Facebook page on Monday, and gained more than 21,000 “likes” in just a few hours.
But the account was also swamped with thousands of negative comments, prompting a reminder from the account managers that any inappropriate messages will be deleted, Ming Pao Daily reported on Tuesday.
Superintendent Tse Chun-chung said freedom of speech will be respected and netizens are welcome to leave comments.
However, messages using hostile or insulting language will be removed, in line with the practice of other government agencies and overseas police forces, Tse said.
Police said the foray into social media is part of efforts to enhance relations with the public.
The Facebook page contains interesting facts and information about the police force, including features on police dog training and the operation of special units.
Police stressed that it will not discuss details of criminal cases on the platform.
The Facebook page also premiered a special section called “News at 4 p.m”, a video hosted by Steve Hui Chun-tak, the chief superintendent of the police public relations bureau.
Hui’s face has familiar to many television viewers since he started giving 4 p.m. police updates on the pro-democracy Occupy protests last year.
As of midnight Monday, Hui’s video was watched more than 24,000 times. Police did not say if Hui’s video would be a regular feature on the Facebook page.
Senior Superintendent Catherine Kwan Chui-ching said it took the police department four years to prepare for the launch of the Facebook page, which is the latest to be added to its public forum platforms, which include a smartphone app and a YouTube channel.
Kwan said the police department is keen to keep up with the times in promoting interaction with the citizenry, but she would not rate the success of the Facebook page purely on the number of “likes” it attracts.
As of 10 a.m. Tuesday, more than 28,000 netizens have left comments on the Facebook page, a large portion of which tended to be critical to the police force.
Some of the comments relate to the alleged beating of Civic Party member Ken Tsang Kin-chiu by seven police officers at the height of last year’s protests, former Sha Tin division commander Franklin Chu King-wai, who has been accused of assaulting protesters last year, and police officers who made false testimonies in court against Occupy activists.
Tse said questions about criminal cases should be directed to the police public relations bureau and not posted on the Facebook page.
He said police cannot promise to reply to all the comments as the page is managed by a team of only three people, who are monitoring the social media platform round the clock.
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