Study From John Rappaport and Colleagues Demonstrates Police Agencies Disproportionately Post About Crimes Involving Black Suspects on Facebook

Police disproportionately post on Facebook about crimes involving Black suspects, study finds

Law enforcement agencies on Facebook disproportionately post about crimes involving Black suspects, according to a study out tomorrow from researchers at the University of Chicago, Duke University, and Stanford University. 

The study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that the trend occurs across crime types and geographic regions, but is especially prevalent in much of the Midwest and some of the South and mid-Atlantic. It also increases with the proportion of both Republican voters and non-Black residents, the researchers say. 

The researchers gathered all posts from almost 14,000 Facebook pages maintained by U.S. law enforcement agencies, said report author John Rappaport, a University of Chicago law professor. By comparing the relative frequency of agency posts about Black suspects with local and aggregate arrest statistics, they examined whether law enforcement agencies expose users to an accurate representation of the interaction between crime and race. 

For example, Rappaport says, if 10% of people arrested in Chicago are Black and 25% of the crime posts on the Chicago PD’s Facebook page feature Black suspects, this would suggest that Black people are overreported by 15 percentage points. 

Read more at Fast Company

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