Instagram, and other Social Media, as Law Enforcement Tools

Earlier this week, I shared an article on “Instagram officers” with my Intro to Digital Communications classmates via Twitter. This article notes that San Francisco has actually began hiring police officers whose main responsibility is to scan social media each day for any suspicious behavior.

Dr. Strahler then asked me my thoughts on the legal implications of Instagram and I felt that the question merited more than a 140 character tweet so, here we are!

The existence of “Instagram officers” shows how truly pervasive social media have become in our society. I wonder, as the media continue to develop and, therefore, transform the ways in which our police departments and governments fulfil their law enforcement duties, if the skillsets necessary to be an officer of the law will transform as well. For instance, will the physical endurance exam required to be a police officer continue to be necessary for ALL officers to pass? With social media as such a powerful law enforcement tool, isn’t it just as important to now have a tech savvy individual on the force with excellent research skills- even if he or she can’t run a mile to save their life?

I don’t believe that anyone can argue that social media, particularly Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, are not an integral part of law enforcement today. Just take a look at the below post made by my local police department on Facebook.

picture of suspect
Utica Police Department seeking suspect

This is not the first time the Utica Police Department has turned to the Facebook community in an attempt to identify a suspect. If you look through it’s timeline, you will find many instances of the force looking to the public for help via the internet, and even instances of the force personally thanking the Facebook community for their help in solving such cases!

Could people like us social media inclined individuals in Introduction to Digital Communications be the new face of law enforcement soon?

xoxo Newhouse, New Ally 💁


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