Police social networking: relying on cheerleaders to help moderate the Facebook trolls

Andrew Kelly

Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperConference paperpeer-review

17 Downloads (Pure)


Australian police organisations have been reluctant to adopt online social networking amid concernsabout online security, legal constraints and reputation. Modern policing has for more than a centuryrelied on face-to-face community engagement to prevent and investigate crime but technology haschanged the nature of community from a geographic entity to one that extends into cyberspace.Online platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube can provide police with a presence in theseonline communities, much the same as having an officer on the neighbourhood beat, as well asenhancing policing in areas such as intelligence, public safety awareness, community relations,investigations and surveillance. Australian police organisations have trialled the use of Twitter,YouTube, blogs and other didactic social networking platforms but have demonstrated a reluctanceto embrace dialogic platforms such as Facebook. Employees are subject to organisational rules andramifications that generally cannot be enforced on outsiders, who might then feel free to postcomments that are defamatory, private, offensive or damaging to the reputation of the organisation.Police organisations must weigh this risk against the benefits of engaging online. In April 2010, theNSW Police Force was the first Australian police agency to establish a Facebook site that genuinelypromoted dialogic engagement with the community on a broad range of policing issues and events.The shooting death of Constable William Crews in September 2010 led to a significant increase in the number of users accessing the NSW Police Force Facebook site.This paper uses computer-mediateddiscourse analysis (CMDA) to qualitatively research seven threads of online dialogue stemming frompostings on the NSW Police Force Facebook site about the death of Constable Crews, his funeral andthe investigation. It suggests that the great majority of users on the site are supporters of the police,referred to as cheerleaders, and seeks to determine if the cheerleader presence is significant andactive enough to mollify damaging comments from trolls that give rise to the concerns aboutdefamation, privacy, offensiveness and reputation.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationANZCA 2011
Subtitle of host publicationCommunication on the edge: shifting boundaries and identities
EditorsAlison Henderson
Place of PublicationAustralia
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 2011
EventAustralia and New Zealand Communication Association (ANZCA) 2011 Annual Conference - The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand, Hamilton, New Zealand
Duration: 06 Jul 201108 Jul 2011


ConferenceAustralia and New Zealand Communication Association (ANZCA) 2011 Annual Conference
Country/TerritoryNew Zealand


Dive into the research topics of 'Police social networking: relying on cheerleaders to help moderate the Facebook trolls'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this