Can I follow you? social media surveillance and policing dilemmas

Masters Thesis

Cahill, L. 2020. Can I follow you? social media surveillance and policing dilemmas. Masters Thesis Canterbury Christ Church University School of Law, Criminal Justice and Policing
AuthorsCahill, L.
TypeMasters Thesis
Qualification nameMSc by Research

This research paper explores current open source practices within the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS), with specific attention to social media use by frontline personnel for the purpose of intelligence gathering, investigation and safeguarding. Although, still a relatively new phenomenon for policing, recent advancements have been made in understanding the impact of open source and social media data use in police work, but the focus has been limited to overarching thematical analysis of systems that suggest institutional coordination in their use, function and purpose. This study takes a different approach by focusing on the practices employed by frontline policing personnel in the Metropolitan Police Service and evaluates the concept of ‘localised surveillance’ practices employed by frontline officers that risk undermining police legitimacy at a fundamental level. By identifying localised practices that include the use of personal devices, personal social media accounts and false personas to covertly extract open source and social media data this research considers the shifting power relationship between the police and public in an age where a plethora of personal information is readily available on the internet. At time when traditional surveillance practices are the focus of public enquiry, this timely and relevant research is essential for police services’ nationally and beyond to consider the implications of localised surveillance practices by frontline personnel on their respective agencies and society more widely.

KeywordsSocial media; Surveillance; Metroploitan Police Service; Open source; Intelligence; Investigation; Safeguarding; Policing; Localised social media surveillance
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Deposited21 May 2020
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