As More Police Departments Use Social Media, What Are The Compliance Risks?

Social networks have increased the speed and scope of our communicating ability so much that it is little wonder businesses and organisations are rapidly adopting these channels. One area that is proving to be a fertile ground for building relationships is law enforcement.

A 2013 survey in the United States found that 96% of police departments used social media in some capacity. Facebook was by far the most popular platform, with 92.1% of the police departments using social media having a presence on the worlds largest social network. The next most commonly used channel was Twitter, with 64.8% of the police departments using social media having an account on the micro blogging platform.

While police departments are predominantly using their social network accounts to aid the solving of crimes by asking local residents to come forward with information, having a social network presence is also improving the relationship between communities and their law enforcement agencies. Lynn Hightower, communications director at the Boise Police Department says:

“People can communicate with the police department, it’s no longer that 800-pound gorilla that no one knows how to communicate with.”

It’s great to see the positive changes that can arise from the use of social media by individuals and organisations, and if you read the end of the Mashable article Police Turn to Social Media to Fight Crime, Dispel Rumors, there’s a feel-good story.

However, if you are a business or a public or government body using social media, it’s worth being aware of any regulations that might apply to your particular industry or sector. You will likely have certain responsibilities when it comes to records retention, and more often than not it isn’t enough to simply rely upon being able to find something on the social networks themselves.

We recently produced a White Paper that looks at some of the legal risks posed to businesses who use social media as part of their marketing and communication efforts, and how those risks can be best minimised. You can download Minimising the Legal and Regulatory Risks of Social Media in Business for free now.

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