Dorner manhunt: San Bernardino Sheriff’s asks media to stop tweeting, Twitter explodes

via KPCC:

San Bernardino County's District Attorney's Office tweet


There was a side story to Tuesday’s Big Bear manhunt and shootout with suspected murderer and fugitive ex-LAPD officer Christopher Dorner. It was a request — believed to be unprecedented in Southern California — for media outlets to stop using Twitter to track the continuing manhunt, for fear of officer safety.

As events played out on local and cable television news, “Big Bear,” “SWAT team” and “cabin” made it to the top of Twitter’s national trending list. #Dorner was at the top of the trends list in Los Angeles.

That prompted the department to issue its unusual request late Tuesday afternoon: Please stop tweeting.

Why? KPCC placed a call to the department to ask why, but hasn’t received a response yet. The tweet, and subsequent tweets thanking news outlets that complied, have been deleted.

It’s possible the department wanted to preserve the tactical secrets of its officers and those of other law enforcement agencies believed to be convening on the cabin where Dorner was presumed to be holed up — and, presumably, monitoring events outside via social media or TV. (The department also asked TV helicopters to back out of the area so as not to reveal deputy deployments.)

Some media outlets — such as CBS TV affiliates — complied with the request to resist tweeting. Others — like KPCC — did not.

Following are some of the tweets in response to the department’s request.

What do you think of the request? Do you think it was an attempt by a law enforcement agency to manage the media reports of its actions? Or do you think it was a legitimate attempt to protect the safety of its officers in a perilous situation? Sound off in the comments below.


  1. It was an unprecedented request from law enforcement in Southern California, who had already asked helicopters to back off.
  2. The sheriff has asked all members of the press to stop tweeting immediately. It is hindering officer safety. #Dorner
  3. Sometime after 5 p.m., the tweet, and request, was deleted.
  4. After posting regularly, the Press-Enterprise stopped tweeting about the manhunt.
  5. Law enforcement officials have asked the media to stop tweeting about the #Dorner case, fearing officer safety. We are complying.
  6. After a few minutes, they clarified the nature of their coverage, but the public still wasn’t happy about their decision, though the DA’s office thanked them.
  7. We are going to tweet broad, non-tactical details, as per the San Bernardino DA’s request.
  8. @PEcom_news do you do anything aside from licking the boots of your local government officials?
  9. @PEcom_news It is not hindering officer safety, that was a lie you bought hook, line and sinker. Did you even ask how? #Dorner#doyourjob
  10. (Note: The original tweet has been deleted, this is a RT of that now-deleted tweet.)
  11. RT@sbcountyda: Thank u MT “@PEcom_news: Law enforcement officials have asked media to stop tweeting abt #Dorner case… We are complying.”
  12. Later, CBS Los Angeles complied with the request.
  13. Per @SBCountyDA request we are complying and will not tweet updates on #Dorner search. Watch #live coverage on #KCAL9,
  14. Later, a memo was sent out to CBS stations in LA and San Francisco asking them to comply with the request.
  15. CBS stations stop tweeting about Dorner | JIMROMENESKO.COM

    Per @ sbcountyda request we are complying and will not tweet updates on #Dorner search. Watch #live coverage on #KCAL9, #CBS2, @…
  16. There is a question whether nationally police have ever asked media to stop tweeting about a news event. Even after they stopped tweeting, the Press Enterprise kept updating their site, and TV coverage continued.
  17. so the San Bernardino sheriff’s office has asked the media not to tweet about the Dorner siege — is this a first?
  18. Media blackouts have been used in the past. In the instance of kidnapped reporters, outlets like the New York Times and NBC have asked other media to refrain from reporting on the incidents, because of safety concerns for the reporter.

    Local and national media and bloggers were unhappy with the request. Many asked how Twitter was different from TV or radio in terms of continuous coverage.
  19. With all due respect to law enforcement officers on #Dornermanhunt: Press, do your job. Your obligation is to the public, not the state.
  20. @rozmurph @kimbui it’s ludicrous. Twitter is not an official channel of communications therefore how could it hinder officer safety?
  21. But TV is okay? MT @AnnieLowrey: Wow. RT @sbcountydaSheriff has asked media to stop tweeting. It is hindering officer safety. #Dorner
  22. @ZachBehrens @kimbui @sbcountyda Exactly… #Dorner isn’t checking his Twitter feed on his iPhone while firing at police.
  23. Does suspect have @Twitter access in cabin? Potentially. MT@CBSLA Per @SBCountyDA request we are complying & will not tweet updates #Dorner
  24. Does @sbcountyda think #Dorner has a device that can access twitter but not the rest of the web?
  25. First tweet veto I’ve seen… I’m sure it won’t be the last, but it’s a King Canute moment
  26. The San Bernardino DA’s office did not reply to a question posed through Twitter, nor return phone calls late Tuesday afternoon.
  27. @sbcountyda Question from the media: How is Twitter more of a hindrance than TV/radio coverage?
  28. (A sidenote, KPCC has continued coverage. Some audience response to our decision)
  29. @KPCC @CBSLA @PEcom_news good for you, they are disgraces those who stop reporting live
  30. @KPCC @cbsla @pecom_news thank you! How can they ask non media to not tweet?

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