Agency Caught Impersonating Police on Twitter; Cops Confiscate Tweet Stream

Last Updated May 27, 2009 5:02 PM EDT

Sydney marketing agency Mentally Friendly spent "months" posing as the official Twitter voice of the New South Wales police force before being discovered. The shop has now stopped impersonating the police and handed over the tweet stream to the real police, who are continuing to use it as if nothing had happened. The shop gained 600 followers before the fake was discovered. A sample fake post:
Police are appealing for assistance investigating acts of animal cruelty at schools in Sydney's west http://bit.ly/BCqMG
A sample real post:
The NSW Firearms Amnesty - last days! - it began on 1 March and will end on 31 May. 3,299 firearms have been handed in so far.
Here's what the May 20 handover looked like:
@mf_news LOVES #NSWPolice. For more info: http://www.mentallyfriendly... Handing over to the real NSW Police now.

This is now the official Twitter site of NSW Police. Follow us as we relay info re police activities, warnings and appeals to solve crime.
Not all the fake police posts were benign. Here's one from March 5:
Enjoying new secret search powers.
The impersonations came to an end after ABC in Australia reported that the police were investigating who was tweeting on its behalf. Mentally Friendly (clients include Discovery Channel and Sol beer) had this explanation:
Mentally Friendly wondered what the social reaction would be if a law enforcement agency or figure of authority joined the conversation.
Nick Gower from Mentally Friendly comments, "The intent was never to misrepresent the NSW Police Force, but to create a simple and genuine dialogue with which to gauge the public's response."
But as you can see from their press release, they seem to think they're hilarious geniuses. Hat tip to CNET's Chris Matyszczyk

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