With the current technological advancements, sharing of life moments and woes has become easy. Friends can instantaneously share pictures and photos no matter the distance or geographical location. However, the question of whether the people have full rights when posting on social media has taken center stage. The case of Korynn Gaines whose Instagram profile was temporarily removed by the Instagram Company with a request from the police is a good example of posting rights. She was sharing her encounter with the police, and Instagram deleted her profile temporarily. The question here is whether this results to censorship and whether such an action by the police can be termed as being ethical.
Capturing and sharing of police actions has taken to social media in recent times. Cases of police brutality have been on the rise and given that the mass media is to some extent biased based on journalists’ relationships with the police; the public has turned to social media to share instances of police brutality. Those oppressed by the police tend to have a large audience on social media. The police have also turned to social media to solve cases. In cases of kidnapping, missing people, emergencies among others, the police can use social media to alert the public and collect relevant intelligence in the process. Social media also aids the police in capturing perpetrators of such actions.
The only problem is to decide which information should be shared with the public and which should not. A good example is an emergency case. In times of an emergency, the police have to make a decision on which information to release to the public based on the appropriate framework and regulation. The decision has to consider the public’s right to information and the relevant safety concerns. The judgment has to be based on a case-to-case basis since there is no specific ethical framework for the police to follow. Consequentialism, for example, avoids negative consequences while utilitarianism considers the outcome that does the maximum good for the maximum number of people.
Social media has revolutionized how people communicate, and the police should take this advantage and adopt the medium in sharing of information. With the increasing cases of police brutality, the public has a tendency of favoring the victims thus negatively affecting the reputation of the police. However, the use of body cameras, which was introduced in the year 2014, can put an end to the misconceptions about police brutality. By sharing footages from the body cameras through social media, the public can have access to the full encounter between the police and the victim. This is a good way for the police to instill confidence among the masses regarding how they execute their duties.
The solution is for the police to adopt the use of social media to share information and solve varied cases in the process. However, ethical concerns, as well as privacy issues, have to be considered. Different ethical frameworks fit different situations based on the intended results. In addition, consideration has to be made whether to uphold safety or privacy based on the issue at hand. Sharing footages from body cameras through social media can increase transparency and accountability in law enforcement. However, ethical concerns have to be considered in the sharing of information. With time, the use of social media will increase efficiency and accountability in law enforcement. The polarized reputation that the police have been experiencing will be restored through the same media that has been used to destroy it. By posting real-time encounters between the police and victims, both the citizens and the police will act responsibly knowing they are being watched. Technology is here to stay, and it is upon the law enforcement to embrace it and use it to its advantage.
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