Online Social Networks and Police in India—Understanding the Perceptions, Behavior, Challenges
Safety is a concern for most urban communities; police departments bear the majority of responsibility to maintain law and order and prevent crime. Police agencies across the globe are increasingly using Online Social Network (OSN) (such as Facebook and Twitter) to acquire intelligence and connect with citizens. Developing nations like India are however, still exploring OSN for policing. We interviewed 20 IPS officers and 21 citizens to understand perceptions, and explored challenges experienced while using OSN for policing. Interview analysis, highlights how citizens and police think about information shared on OSN, handling offensive comments, and acknowledgment overload, as they pursue social and safety goals. We found that success of OSN for policing demands effective communication between the stakeholders (citizens and police). Our study shows that OSN offers community-policing opportunities, enabling police to identify crime with the help of citizens. It can reduce the communication gap and improve coordination between police and citizens. We also discuss design opportunities for tools to support social interactions between stakeholders.