Attorney general shuts down Twitter page impersonating Austin PD

AUSTIN, TX - The Office of the Attorney General and the Austin City Attorney's office worked together to shut down a Twitter account that impersonated the Austin Police Department.

The Twitter account, which was listed as "AustinPD," had hundreds of followers before it was shut down late last week. Postings on the site featured fictitious updates about purportedly official APD activities, status and statistics. For example, one posting claimed announced that APD officers would be "making more stops" at this year's South by Southwest festival.

"Impersonating authorities and posting false information about law enforcement activities poses real problems for both peace officers and citizens who are unknowingly relying upon inaccurate facts," said Attorney General Abbott. "By working closely with the Austin Police Department and the City Attorney's Office, we were able to prevent the site from continuing to publish fabricated information about official law enforcement activities."

Citing a state law that prohibits individuals from impersonating public servants, the OAG contacted Twitter, asked the website to suspend the "AustinPD" account and requested that it preserve any records related to the AustinPD user.

"We are thankful that the unauthorized AustinPD blog site was brought to our attention, and very grateful for the action taken by the Attorney General's Office to shut the site down," said Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo. "Although some may dismiss the site as a simple prank or minor irritant, the fact is that the information presented was false and misleading and could lead to unwarranted concern by the public. The blog site also served to undermine the APD's effort to build a spirit of trust and cooperation between the department and the community we serve."

Responding to requests from both the OAG and City Attorney's Office, Twitter suspended the account. The page currently shows the message, "Sorry, the account you were headed to has been suspended due to strange activity. Mosey along now, nothing to see here."

Twitter is a free social networking and micro-blogging service that allows its users to send and read other users' updates.