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2 Related Work

Previous studies have investigated police adoption in social media by measuring the growth in the number of followers of Twitter police accounts. Crump, J. [2], for example, obtained a positive correlation between the number of followers and the length that an account had been active. This study also investigated the topics of tweets posted by police accounts and extracted four main categories for those topics: patrol (reports from police patrolling), information (police requesting information from the public), partners (messages associated with emergency services or local authorities) and other (messages that did not relate to any of the above categories).

Heverin, H. investigated the use of Twitter by police departments from large U.S. cities (cities with populations greater than 300,000). This study found that the primary use of Twitter by city police departments is informing about crime or incident related information (45.3 % of tweets). Other uses of Twitter included sharing department, event, suspect, prevention, and traffic information. This study highlighted that; overall, city police departments do not use Twitter to converse directly with members of the public.

Other works have analysed policing messages in the context of riots [3] and protests [6]. The work of Denef et al. [3] analyses the Twitter communication by the London Metropolitan Police (MET) and the Greater Manchester Police (GMP) during the London riots in August 2011. The study concluded that, while MET followed an instrumental approach in their communication, in which the police aimed to remain in a controlled position and keep a distance to the general public, GMP developed an expressive approach, in which the police actively decreased the distance to the citizens.

Earl et al. [6] analysed the engagement of citizens (protesters) during the 2009 G20 meetings held in Pittsburgh. This study concluded that, during this event, Twitter was used by the citizens to share information that was formerly monopolized by the police, such as the location of the police or their actions; creating new dynamics in protester and police interactions.

While all these works focus on understanding the different approaches of police communication, and the different topic categories of such communication, none of these works investigate the engagement dynamics of the citizens towards social media policing content. Understanding what are they features of those messages that attract the citizen's attention (How are they written? When are they posted? Which topics they talk about?) may help police forces to enhance the impact that they have on their communities.

 
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