The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) used Facebook Live to broadcast a press conference announcing a double homicide. What they weren’t aware of was that they had accidentally switched on a cat filter feature that added whiskers and cat ears to the speaking officer.
Viewers watching the live-streamed press conference were shocked and somewhat bemused as the speaking police officer continued to make her statements with a cat filter over her face. The whimsical nature of the filter contrasted with the serious tone of the announcement of such a sensitive topic as a grizzly double homicide.
Sgt. Janelle Shoihet later rerecorded the press conference statement without the filter and apologized for the error.
Yes we are aware and addressing it as it's an automatic setting. Thank you, we will rectify and issue a video shortly.
— BCRCMP (@BCRCMP) July 19, 2019
Last month, Shaukat Yousafazi, a regional minister in northwest Pakistan, started a press conference without realizing that he too also had the cat filter turned on. Yousafazi went viral after he proceeded to talk about regional issues with cat ears and whiskers for the entirety of his press conference.
There has been a recent debate about government and city services such as police and politicians relying on social media platforms to get their message out and whether such platforms are the appropriate place to put out official and sensitive information.
With recent Twitter account breaches such as that from the London’s Metropolitan Police this week, it raises the question of whether these private US companies should be the platform of choice for official communication.
Tools such as Facebook Live do make it easier to broadcast and Twitter does make it easy to put out information to an audience fast but it also introduces greater potential for things to go wrong when it’s a platform public officials don’t control.