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Directory of Police Department Social Media Policies

Brennan Center for Justice – “While many departments have policies addressing the use of social media data, most are too permissive or provide little transparency about actual practices. Surveys and anecdotal reports suggest that the use of social media by state and local law enforcement is widespread, with a number of police departments reporting that they use social media to “listen” to activity online or to monitor and gauge public sentiment. Little has been known, however, about the rules in place to govern how police monitor, collect, or use social media data for criminal investigations, public safety, situational awareness, or event planning, or whether there are common trends across departments.  In 2021, to try to fill that gap, the Brennan Center analyzed a set of police department policies governing social media use to assess both the public availability of these policies and their scope and rigor. As of February 2024, we have updated this resource to include a comprehensive survey of law enforcement agencies across the country.  The Brennan Center researched 328 law enforcement agencies serving every incorporated city with a population greater than 100,000. We found that 162 agencies, or 49 percent, have policies available on their website that address the use of social media by department employees to view or collect information for a range of purposes. Few of the policies offer concrete, practical guidance to department employees or notice to the public regarding how their social media data might be collected, monitored, or retained, and many do not disclose the rules governing the use of undercover accounts or include safeguards for First Amendment–protected activities…”

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