Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Faculty of Arts

First Advisor

Dr. Christopher Schneider

Advisor Role


Second Advisor

Dr. Carrie Sanders

Advisor Role



Policing organizations have been quick to adopt the use of social media as a community-policing and investigative tool. However, the user-generated content on social media platforms can pose a risk to police legitimacy, police accountability, and their role as the ‘authorized knowers’. This thesis explores how social media problematizes the social problems game and how social media challenges the police as the ‘authorized knowers’. Through the analysis of two case studies - #myNYPD campaign and the Walter Scott shooting – it was found that social media users can use social media platforms to construct claims against and challenge police in the social problems game through the circulation of user-generated content. It was discovered that images and videos play a significant role in the social problems game, and the challenging of the police. The authority that the police have with traditional media differs from the relationship they have with social media. This is because social media becomes much more difficult to control, especially with the interpretive flexibility of images and video. It was found that police still engage in counter-claims making activities through traditional media outlets to counteract claims made online, but that social media also provides a new platform for counter-claims making activities.

Convocation Year


Included in

Criminology Commons