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Social Media established by the IACP National Law Enforcement Policy Center. This paper provides essential background materi- al and supporting documentation to impart greater understand- ing of the developmental philosophy and implementation requirements for the model policy. This material will be of value to law enforcement executives in their efforts to tailor the model policy to the requirements and the circumstances of their com- munities and their law enforcement agencies.

B. Background Personal Internet access has grown exponentially over the last

decade, facilitating the growth in popularity of the World Wide Web and, more recently, social media. For the purpose of this dis- cussion paper, social media is defined as a category of Internet- based resources that integrate user-generated content and user participation. Social media tools have become synonymous with popular culture and new waves of personal communication. People of all ages and organizations of all types are using these tools like never before.

Social media has many uses for government agencies includ- ing law enforcement agencies. The characteristics of community collaboration and interactive communication that are at the core of social media, lend directly to the core of democratic culture, and allow for positive community interaction and effective deliv- ery of services. Community policing, investigations, and other strategic initiatives can all be enhanced with the effective use of social media.

The increase in personal social media usage across demo- graphics also means that more and more law enforcement per- sonnel are engaging in these tools on a personal level. Misuse of social media can lead to harsh consequences for both the indi- vidual and his or her agency.

The IACP Model Policy on Social Media was established in order to assist law enforcement agencies in developing appropriate procedures and guidelines for both official department use of social media tools as well as personal use by agency employees. The purpose of this discussion paper is to educate law enforce-

ment managers and executives on the uses and abuses of social media. As the age of technology continues to expand, the use of social media should be supervised closely in order to ensure eth- ical, effective, and lawful police applications.

C. Policy Development In response to the rise in use of social media, police depart-

ments should draft and implement policies that regulate social media use among employees, as well as determine proper and effective department use. The model social media policy was developed to establish an agency’s position on the utility and management of social media tools as well as provide guidelines for personal usage of social media for agency personnel.

As noted above, many of the legal issues surrounding social media have not yet been settled in the court system. “In a time where the legal standards as to privacy issues are being inter- preted at all levels, the need to ensure clear standards are in place is more important than ever.”2

Before determining what needs to be accomplished in a social media policy, it is essential to bring together communications, legal, and other officials within the agency and municipal juris- diction to perform a needs assessment. Agencies should also note, that many issues may be resolved by citing other policies that may already be in place such as Internet Use, Electronic Messaging, Code of Conduct, and Media Relations.

II. OFFICIAL DEPARTMENT USE Departments may find great value in the use of various social

media tools. Social media tools can be used for num

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