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According to a 2014 LexisNexis online survey, eighty percent of federal, state, and local law enforcement professionals use social media platforms as an intelligence gathering tool, but most lack policies governing the use of social media for investigations. Law enforcement agencies utilize social media for a wide range of reasons, including: discovering criminal activity, obtaining probable cause for search warrants, collecting evidence for court hearings, pinpointing the location of criminals, witness identification, as well as broadcasting information and soliciting tips from the public. Social media surveillance includes both manual and automated practices, and methods may be targeted or general.

This document is a workshop primer from Data & Civil Rights: A New Era of Policing and Justice.