Toronto Metropolitan University
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The Efficacy of Facebook as a Tool in Criminal Investigations

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posted on 2021-06-15, 14:23 authored by Mary Zajac
June 15, 2011 marked the date of the Vancouver riots that followed the Canucks loss of the Stanley Cup final. Social media as a form of communication between the public and police was a distinguishing feature during the 2011 riots, and is compared to the context of a similar Vancouver riot occurring in 1994. Through the review of literature on the criminal justice system, crowdsourcing, social media as a tool in policing, surveillance, language on Facebook and Facebook as a communication tool I explore the practice of communication as it unfolds on the Facebook group, “Vancouver Riot Pics: Post Your Photos” and examine the efficacy of this communication tool. The Facebook comments underneath the uploaded images are evaluated through a content analysis. Five Facebook images and there associated comment threads are collected in chronological order for the sample based on the outlined criteria of: 25-40 comments, a non-manipulated image, and being published in either the Globe and Mail or the National Post online news source. Erving Goffman’s theoretical orientation of frame analysis is applied to understanding the development of the Facebook comments; more specifically his concept of the social primary framework is directly related to the intended purpose outlined by the Facebook group. The purpose of “Vancouver Riot Pics: Post Your Photos” is to identify rioters through the public’s contribution of images and Facebook comments. Research findings suggest that the intended purpose of the Facebook group is achieved, as there is a significant emergence of the frames identification and crowdsourcing; therefore, Facebook is deemed a helpful tool in police investigation.





  • Master of Professional Communication


  • Professional Communication

Granting Institution

Ryerson University

LAC Thesis Type

  • MRP