Can I follow you? Social media surveillance and policing dilemmas

Research Institution / Organisation

Canterbury Christ Church University

In Collaboration With

Metropolitan Police Service

Principal Researcher

Liam Cahill

Level of Research


Project Start Date

September 2016

Research Context

​The use of social media is rapidly increasing across the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) and throughout police services world wide. The aims of this research is to understand how police officers are using these platforms and whether they are being used for surveillance purposes due to the open nature of the information they provide. This research will consider if technology is available as appropriate, are policies and legislation robust enough as well as, training regarding social media, accountability and legitimacy. In doing so, this researcher will develop a new theory of social media surveillance.

This research is supported by the College of Policing Bursary Scheme

Research Methodology

​A questionnaire will be circulated to MPS officers. This will be accomplished utilising the 32 Social Media single points of of contact (SPOCs) in each borough to support completion. In addition the 32 SPOCs will form part of a group discussion on the subject matter. I will also be conducting thematic interviews with individuals linked to this area of work, e.g. The Open Source Unit.

Interim reports and publications

​Not available

Date due for completion

February 2019
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