Policing through social media: a qualitative exploration

Seth Wyatt Fallik*, Ross Deuchar, Vaughn J. Crichlow, Hannah Hodges

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)
232 Downloads (Pure)


Social media, in the last decade, had been used to hold police accountable for their actions. There has been, however, a paucity of empirical research into how law enforcement uses social media. To explore this issue, this paper uses qualitative data emerging from ethnographic research conducted in a Southern American state. Participant observations of police officer deployments were paired with semi-structured interviews with officers from three law enforcement agencies. The extent and ways that these officers used social media is explored. Findings indicate that social media is used to bring positive attention to law enforcement agencies and aid criminal investigations. While the positive impact of social media was highlighted in these experiences, persistent problems and challenges were also featured in the data. Finally, officer insights were drawn upon to make recommendations for future policing policy and research.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)208-218
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Police Science & Management
Issue number2
Early online date25 Mar 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2020


  • Social media
  • Criminal investigations
  • Public relations
  • Legitimacy
  • Ferguson effect


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