Allen County, KS – The Allen County Sheriff’s Office created a firestorm on social media when they posted an image to Facebook claiming that the sheriff’s office would be blocking all access to Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, Tumblr, and YouTube.
The post starts off “30 Day NOTICE” and then says:
Citizens of Allen County, Kansas, including the incorporated and unincorporated cities of: Bassett, Bayard, Carlyle, Elsmore, Gas, Geneva, Humboldt, Iola, La Harpe, Mildred, Petrolia, Savonburg
Due to the extensive and repeated misuse of Facebook and other social media applications within this jurisdiction we will be blocking all Allen County access to Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, Tumblr, and YouTube between February 28 and March 1.
Despite it being impossible for the sheriff to block access to social media applications, and the timeframe of February 28 – March 1 being non-existent, many people were outraged.
Shaun Mullins posted: What the hell gives you the right to shut down media accounts I use it to stay in touch with family and so do my kids this has got to be a joke cuss I can’t imagine the law suit your going to get afterwards. Seriously I will lead a class action suit if this happens this is infringing on my right to life and happiness and free speech!
In response to Mr. Mullins the sheriff’s office doubled-down:
There will be no lawsuit. We have taken all the legal steps to do this and have all the paperwork completed which is of open public record. We social media admins just felt that we needed to give everyone proper notice before it happened. After the stated time period everything will be just as it was before.
We welcome all challengers to our authority in this matter. We do support free speech and this is just part of it. We understand that other law enforcement agencies across the country are following our lead in this matter.
You will soon see that we have the power to do EXACTLY what we have stated in our Notice. We might suggest that the framers of the Constitution, Bill of Rights, and Declaration of Independence wouldn’t understand this whole social media thing and would be asking you and others why people just don’t talk to your friends and family directly.
We aren’t doing anything to land-line phones, cell phones, email or computers The Allen County Courthouse is open today from 8 to 5 if you would like to start your lawsuit today. Federal Courthouses across the nation are also open. We suggest printing off a copy of the Notice and showing it to the people at the Courthouse so they can place it with the file.
There were countless more angry responses leading people to question the intelligence of people in Allen County. The sheriff’s office was quick to point out that most of the commenters were from outside of the state.
“…we would say that 99% or more of the comments have come from outside our jurisdiction and probably 80% from outside of Kansas,” they said.
Just four hours later the sheriff’s office said that their office staff and dispatchers were flooded with angry calls:
Social media. We love it. We hate it. Here in Allen County, Kansas we have repeatedly and successfully used our social media to help solve crimes, create leads, and locate missing and wanted people.
Here on our Facebook page we work hard for our posts to be truthful, accurate, and even educational. Like every law enforcement agency in the country, we routinely debate about using social media. R**ight now, in 2018, it is the quickest way to communicate a message in a timely manner. Whether you agree or not, it seems to be working for us in our community.
Our post today, Monday, January 29, 2018, about “shutting off social media” was another successful demonstration of the power of social media. It wasn’t intended to be that way.
Like our 2017 April Fool’s Day video post, this is unexpectedly “going viral.” Our followers are very responsive and passionate. While many shared and responded in kind, some were not so kind and jumped right in.
We knew that would happen but didn’t expect the sharing explosion as people didn’t fully understand. While it started out slightly humorous to our unknowing office staff who had to explain the “reality,” the calls kept coming with some callers not being so nice. Even our Communications Center dispatchers and the District Court Clerk staff at the courthouse received phone calls.
To those who had to field those phone calls and interactions, we regret the inconvenience that they have caused. Sheriff Murphy even received phone calls from several main stream media sources way outside our local area.
We presume the were looking for a sensational story about the small town Sheriff going rogue, lol. (NOTE: The Iola Register, Humboldt Union and KIKS/KIOL radio didn’t call. )
We want to remind everyone, read everything you see on the internet closely. Check the facts. Not everything is true no matter how good it may look. For those who fell really (and we mean REALLY) hard for this, we would ask that you reflect on the role social media plays in your life.
We understand that many feel that they can’t live without their Facebook, Snap Chat, texting, instant messaging or whatever other methods they may use. We encourage people to actually get out and talk to each other face to face or even with a phone call.
Just so we are clear. Law enforcement has no way to limit or otherwise restrict anyone’s usage of social media, internet, telephone or anything like that. We have enough trouble dealing with our children and their phones.