Social Media Column: Tweeting Checkstop locations just plain stupid

Published in the December 11, 2012 issue of The Edmonton Sun.

Linda’s social media column can be found every Tuesday in the Edmonton Sun.

Tweeting Checkstop locations just plain stupid

I’ve generally focused on the good that comes from social media in these weekly columns.

The good people, the good conversations, the good things that happen as a result of connections made through social networks like Twitter.

But don’t get me wrong. Like anything, there’s some bad.

There are Twitter trolls: People who tweet for the sake of starting arguments and making others angry. There are spam robots that tweet you links to virus-ridden websites.

And every year around this time a bad Twitter trend surfaces. We see and hear more about people who are tweeting out police Checkstop locations.

And that baffles me.

Why would you want to help someone who is driving impaired and could potentially hurt him or herself, and others, by giving away locations of where police are set up?

A popular argument from these people is that they can tweet whatever they want because they have freedom of speech.

But why would you want to use your freedom of speech in that way?

It’s a question Const. David Green with the Edmonton Police Service asks when he hears of cases of people tweeting Checkstops.

“Is it to have more followers on Twitter? If so, who cares,” Green tells me. “How important is that number in the grand scheme of life?”

Impaired driving is the leading criminal cause of death in Canada. In Alberta, about one in five drivers involved in fatal collisions were driving impaired.

Green says the EPS began noticing people tweeting Checkstops about two years ago.

It’s not illegal, so officers can’t really do much to stop it and it’s a sobering thought when driving drunk is actually illegal and still it feels police aren’t able to make a dent in stopping it.

“We catch thousands of impaired drivers every year and sadly the numbers aren’t changing,” Green says. “There is no doubt that the responsible will be responsible, and the irresponsible will continue to be a danger to everyone.”

Don’t drink and drive — at anytime of the year but especially during the holiday season.

And for those who are on Twitter, please don’t tweet police Checkstop locations. It’s downright stupid, which makes you stupid, and it’s just making the roads more dangerous.

“If there are people who are driving impaired who avoid detection because they have been advised of a safe route home by someone who reveals the Checkstop location, then this person will likely continue to do it, potentially until they kill someone on the roads,” Green says.

And if that happens, with the help of your tweet, could you live with that?

Some Tweets of the Week

@bella_vita_xo: Bought as much food as we could for the food bank when we grocery shopped this weekend. You should too! It felt great #yeg #xmasspirit

@JohnSchwetz: Nothing like starting the day and getting in a great mindset with a #DANCE PARTY! #yeg

@cancerbaby: Dear Malls of #yeg, what’s the point in all of you having WiFi networks when they’re too slow to be of any practical use?

@froggyakajasmin: You were really meant to be an Edmontonian when you see snow in the forecast and smile in anticipation & -22 doesn’t faze you at all #yeg

@LauracCollinson: If any of you are considering getting your family a pet for Christmas – adopt. So many good furry friends waiting for a good home. #sap #yeg

Click here to read the column on the Edmonton Sun website!

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