Date of Award

January 2016

Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Document Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Justice Studies

First Advisor

Kristie Blevins

Department Affiliation

Justice Studies

Second Advisor

Gary W. Potter

Department Affiliation

Justice Studies

Third Advisor

Travis Linnemann

Department Affiliation

Justice Studies


This research is a descriptive study of the misuse of social media in law enforcement from 2011 to present. The research will use a content analysis of social media policies coupled with survey of 10 questions administered anonymously to students at the Department of Criminal Justice Training. This mixed method approach will attempt to explain the growing number of police officers and other law enforcement employees who find themselves in violation of the agency policies. The survey consists of Likert scale style questions concerning the agreement with and understanding of social media policies, as well as the perception of privacy while using social media. The quantitative portion of the survey will gather data on age, education, race, gender, and agency type in an effort to see if any those variables correlate to policy violations. Since social media sites became popular in early to mid-2000’s there have been countless examples in the news of police officers and other law enforcement employees being suspended or fired because of poor choices made on social media sites. This study hopes to find a solution to this phenomenon or at the very least an explanation. While there was no statistical significance among dependent variables, there was a strong sense of privacy when using social media. The data showed that while there seemed to be an understanding of agency policy there were still a large number of violations occurring. During the content analysis the use of vague definitions and subjective standards could be the cause. Future works with this study would explore the connection between the subjective standards and the policy violations.