May 9, 2014 By Colin Wood
In 2014, Twitter is turning a profit for the first time, perhaps because people are starting to take the platform more seriously. It's a legitimate mode of communication for organizations seeking new employees; governments are archiving tweets alongside the rest of its public records; and now people are using it to make public records requests.
On April 29, Twitter user @sleepylemur contacted the Seattle Police Department via Twitter requesting an archive of each officer’s Twitter feed. Seattle Police Department runs a program called “Tweets by Beat” that allows the public to follow the arrests and leads of police officers throughout the city. The department is using Twitter as a kind of new age police blotter. Noticing gaps in the tweet history, @sleepylemur tweeted the Seattle Police Department:
The user was then instructed to follow traditional methods:
@sleepylemur If you could please send a formal request to SPDPDR with your contact info, they can get that started for you.— Seattle Police Dept. (@SeattlePD) April 29, 2014
But the incident demonstrates the mindset of a new generation. It seemed reasonable to @sleepylemur to request information via Twitter -- a platform that was founded eight years ago, meaning there are young people alive today who have never lived in a world without Twitter. And in a few years, those people will be teenagers who will then become young adults -- who may expect organizations like the Seattle Police Department to conduct business using a platform they’ve known their entire lives.