Rhetorical Analysis of “Social Media: Establishing Criteria for Law Enforcement Use” by Robert D. Stuart

free essayThe rapid growth of social media encourages the law enforcement to reexamine the positive and adverse effects of its usage. In the essay “Social Media: Establishing Criteria for Law Enforcement Use”, Robert D. Stuart urges the state officials and agencies to develop a conceptual framework for social media usage in regards to its potential benefits and adverse effects in a formal tone and persuasive manner by relying on logical reasoning, ethical and emotional appeals.

The author appeals to the target audience, using formal tone and relevant evidence. The title of the article fully reveals the topic of the essay, suggesting that Robert D. Stuart argues about the necessity of learning how to use social media properly by law enforcement. The use of such words as “a security precaution”, “social networking”, “delineate”, “profanity”, and “derogatory images” suggests that the target audience is well-educated population (Stuart). Namely, such expressions as to “apprehend fugitives”, to “link individuals to street gangs” and “criminal activity” clearly illustrate Stuart’s desire to attract the attention of the law enforcement and state officials by using specific terminology related to the police work (Stuart). The vocabulary is neutral, devoid of idioms, and slang (Stuart). The tone of the article is strictly formal, lacking irony and sarcasm (Stuart). The author’s style is persuasive, as he expressively advocates the idea of controlling the use of social media by the law enforcement (Stuart). Moreover, Stuart supports his claims with credible facts and examples. He illustrates the ability of social networking to influence the wide audience by providing the statistical data of its growth over the recent time (Stuart). The author refers to the 2011 survey conducted by the Institute for Criminal Justice Education to demonstrate the high interest of law enforcement in using the social networks and the relatively slow progress in teaching officers how to use it harmlessly (Stuart). Therefore, Stuart’s main intention is to inform about the potential benefits and risks of using social media by law enforcement.

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Robert D. Stuart mainly relies on logical reasoning and supports his main premise by numerous claims of fact, value, and policy. He accurately summarizes the key points of the article in the foreword (Stuart). The author’s main claim deals with the pressing necessity to establish reliable rules of using social media to comprehend their possible risks and benefits for police officers (Stuart). Later on, Stuart effectively presents his assumptions that inevitably support his main claim. To prove his assertion, Stuart illustrates the obvious growth of social networks along with providing the statistics of their use by the law enforcement officers. The writer strives to convince the readers of the usefulness of using social media by examining its possible advantageous applications as “a new door of communication with the general public” (Stuart) and solving the crimes. At the same time, Stuart outlines the dangerous outcomes of unthoughtful sharing of personal and work-related information on the personnel’s accounts since it “can bring discredit to them and their departments” (Stuart). Finally, the author urges the law enforcement agencies to develop and implement the social media usage policy that should contain a list of specific rules for the police officers (Stuart). Stuart continues his argument by suggesting a two-stage structure of training for officers. The writer concludes his essay with a strong call for establishing the effective control over using the social networking by law enforcement “to increase its benefits for their departments and reduce incidents of misuse by officers” (Stuart). Overall, Robert D. Stuart presented a well-structured argument supported by factual evidence and credible assertion of the issue.

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The author actively uses ethical and emotional appeals. Stuart’s professional background reveals his awareness of the officers’ relative ignorance regarding the usage of social networks. He captures the attention of readers by pointing out the necessity of consulting departments about what personal and work-related information they may post on personal accounts due to the growing influence of social media (Stuart). As an experienced police officer, the author expresses deep concern over the possible negative outcomes of officers’ ignorance by providing relevant examples of misguided usage of sensitive information. By making such information available for the online audience, the officers may encounter the risk of attracting the undesirable attention to their professional activity and social interactions (Stuart). Moreover, “missteps in its use can endanger the safety of officers and compromise criminal cases” (Stuart) due to posting the information that may interfere with the investigative work. At the same time, Stuart’s article deals with the potential usage of social media. By exemplifying the beneficial ways of using the influence of social networking, the author urges the state officials and law enforcement to use pragmatic approach to dealing with the issue (Stuart). Stuart also acknowledges the possible inconveniences the future policy may create for the officers, as they would have to face rational restrictions on their freedom of speech. To present his fair-minded comprehension of the problem, Stuart advocates the idea of establishing “criteria for social media usage that balances the constitutional rights of officers while protecting the integrity of departments and investigations.” At the end of the essay, the writer reinforces his main claim by rising the awareness about the potential benefits of using social media as an effective tool for combating the crime (Stuart). By evaluating multiple aspects of the discussed issue, Robert D. Stuart successfully establishes that he has good knowledge of the problem and understands its complexity.

The social networks enjoy the significant growth in popularity, forcing the state agencies to evaluate their effects on the professional life of law enforcement officers and departments. In his essay “Social Media: Establishing Criteria for Law Enforcement Use”, Robert D. Stuart carefully outlines the reasons for developing and implementing the well-balanced policy of using the social networking, providing credible facts, and adequate evaluation of multiple aspects of the issue.