New Zealand Police have deleted and apologised for a tweet about road safety using a gif of Michael Scott from the US television series The Office to convey what it is like for police to notify a family member of a car crash death.
The country’s official police account tweeted on Monday: “When we have to tell someone their family member has died in a crash.” It was accompanied by a gif of actor Steve Carell in character as Michael Scott smiling and saying “This is the worst!”.
The response was swift as Twitter users began pointing out that the “tone deaf” tweet had missed the mark.
One Twitter user named it “social media fail of the week”, while another said it was the result of police trying to be funny online.
OK, it's only Monday, but this tweet by NZ Police already takes the booby prize for social media fail of the week. Tone-deaf. pic.twitter.com/w4xG3NAyPL
— Nik Dirga (@nikdirga) October 9, 2017
NZ Police posting this Office gif about people dying, then damage control, is sadly the inevitable result of cops trying to be funny online pic.twitter.com/Vy31VZNrRh
— Josh Butler (@JoshButler) October 9, 2017
New Zealand Police subsequently deleted the tweet and apologised.
“We quickly realised it was wrong and insensitive and it was immediately deleted. Thx [Thanks] for feedback,” it tweeted.
Replying to one user, the account tweeted: “Telling someone their loved [one] is not coming home is one of the hardest things cops ever have to do.”
Some suggested New Zealand Police accounts — which often tweets gifs and puns as a means of engaging with their audience — stop posting memes altogether.