I watched it unfold on Twitter as one of the Baltimore Sun reporters was giving updates on his page about the police standoff that lasted over four hours. As the police negotiator trying to talk to the man on the phone, he was sharing the conversation in a live webcast.
In this case, did social media backfire? Not, really. The guy was eventually arrested.
Did it give an unfair advantage the man who was surrounded by police? No. Again, he was arrested.
Does social media sabotage the police in certain situations? Maybe, although I’m not so sure.
Did the general public learn the “secrets” to negotiations? Every negotiation is different, so I think not.
Everything has a good and bad side. Maybe this was one case where having access to the internet worked against the good guys. According to Baltimore police, they serve about a dozen of this type of warrant every day, usually without having their discussions broadcast all over the world.
There have been plenty of other times where internet access actually helps the good guys. And, in the end, the man was taken into custody without incident, just not before he pled his case to the public. Of course, he also let everyone know that he was about to be arrested. I’m not so sure that had him winning any new friends.
We always have to take the good with the bad, and try to turn the bad situations into a learning experience. Live webcasts can do a lot of good in the world.