Strictly observe social media etiquette and protocols, cops nups told

UNIFORMED and non-uniformed personnel of the Philippine National Police have been reminded anew to observe so-called ‘cyber etiquette’ and other protocols when using social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter which tend to cast doubts on the image and integrity of the police force.

PNP chief, General Archie Francisco F. Gamboa, said in accordance with the PNP policy on Social Networking Sites, “all personnel must observe proper decorum in all public engagements including social media platforms, chatgroups and private sites.”

The PNP chief also encouraged PNP personnel to utilize the social media as a tool to establish a pro-active information and awareness activities as well as build a harmonious relationship with the community in this time of pandemic.

"Social media is an excellent public information and collaboration internet tool as we are facing a crisis today, operating within PNP regulations and established policies can mean a successful social media campaign, public relation and also police operations," Gen. Gamboa said.

He said “all comments and opinions of individual personnel, associations and sectoral groups on matters that are not related to the organization's activities are hereby disowned by the PNP as unofficial and unauthorized.”

The National Capital Region Police Office also reminded its personnel to seek authority and approval from their superiors first before posting their activities and operations on social media.

The order was issued amid observation that some PNP personnel have been posting information, screenshots of documents and pictures of activities/operations involving the PNP on social media without proper authorization from respective chiefs of office/unit commanders.

Officials also said there have been instances too when NCRPO personnel involved in incidents of police operations disregarded proper protocols when they allowed themselves to be interviewed by the press.

As a policy, only the NCRPO District Directors, Chiefs of Police and Station Commanders are authorized to grant media interviews. In their absence, their designated spokesperson will serve as their official liaison with the media.

The PNP leadership in particular abhors the presence of any of its personnel who are involved in ‘trolling’ or have become ‘trolls’ in Facebook and other online platforms.

‘Trolling’ is a social media term aptly described as an act by ‘trolls’ to antagonize others online by deliberately posting inflammatory, irrelevant, or offensive comments or other disruptive content.’ ‘Trolls’ are particularly in abundance each time there is an election or there is a major national issue, the latest of which is the closure of ABS-CBN due to its failure to renew its franchise before Congress.

Armed Forces chief, Gen. Felimon Santos Jr.  also has called on his officers and troops and their dependents to refrain from trolling on social media citing the AFP’s 2016 social media policy which banned the posting or sharing of online materials that violate laws, rules and regulations and spread “information that harm or put other people in embarrassing, inconvenient and/or humiliating positions or put the AFP or any of its units in bad light.”

Gen. Santos directed “all AFP military, civilian human resources, to include dependents, are directed to practice caution in publicizing personal opinion especially when engaging in social media activities.”

He added that although posting of personal opinions is allowed, AFP personnel must ensure that their posts are not misconstrued as official statements or positions of the military.

Members of the police and the military who will violate the two institution’s social media policy may be subjected to disciplinary action which will depend on the gravity of the offense.