A Pilot Study on the Impact of Facebook on Perceptions of Police Force - (Pages 6-11)

Wayne W. L. Chan

School of Arts and Social Sciences, The Open University of Hong Kong

DOI: https://doi.org/10.31907/2617-121X.2019.03.01.2

Abstract: The legal authorities, particularly the police force, have been increasingly facing challenges given the popularity of social media [1, 2]. However, we know very little about how public perceptions of the police are being shaped by social media. In this context, this study attempted to investigate the impact of social media on young people’s perceptions of the police in Hong Kong. The focus of this study was placed on Facebook since it was one of the most popular social media platforms in the city.

Facebook was not only conceptualized as a communication medium but also a social networking arena. In this connection, qualitative individual interviews were conducted to explore the online social networking on Facebook and its relation to the perceptions of police force. It was found that the Facebook users who were more likely to stay closely connected with other users with similar views would tend to form the politicized perception of police force. On the other hand, the Facebook users who were to be networked with some other users or real persons with dissimilar views would hold more neutral perceptions of the police.

This study was the first of its kind to investigate the role of online social networking in the perceptions of the police, thus filling an important gap in our knowledge of the increasing impact of social media. Therefore, the results of current study were expected to contribute to society by avoiding the disproportionate public discourse about law and order.

Keywords: Social Media, Online Social Networking, Public Perception, Police Force.