Efforts to recruit, the police turned to targeted advertising


Your favorite social The media platform may know you better than your parents.Our clicks, likes, and attention reveal patterns of complex algorithms Become a behavior file Expose our political beliefs, sexual orientation, race, and even our health.

Now, police recruiters are using these insights to find more job seekers online.Recruiters say their job has Becomes more difficult In 2021, a national uprising after the pandemic and the murder of George Floyd. WIRED also talked with a digital advertising company that is cooperating with the police and the police. Military for online activities To facilitate recruitment, sometimes rely on the same behavioral analysis tools that the platform uses to promote user activity.

“Historically, most of our recruitment efforts have been face-to-face canvassing. We actually go to schools or trade shows, or meet with organizations,” explained Captain Aaron McCraney, who leads the recruitment and employment department of the Los Angeles Police Department.

McCraney said LAPD started to use Digital Marketing Company Sensis A few months before the pandemic.The initial focus is on diversity: LAPD is Struggling Its goal is to recruit female, black, and Asian American applicants.

This may cause problems for tradition Online advertising Because employers (including the police) cannot target advertisements for racial or ethnic groups, nor can they prevent other groups from seeing advertisements. McCraney said that LAPD has traditionally worked with certain social organizations (such as NAACP) to help reach target groups. But this pandemic has almost ended all offline activities, which means that McRaney’s team has to find more women and people of color applicants, rather than really targeting women or people of color. He said that advertising is helpful.

“Traditional recruitment doesn’t work,” said Emma Mae, a marketing expert at PoliceApp, an online recruitment agency that works with more than 700 police departments in the United States. Among other things, PoliceApp creates advertising campaigns and helps applicants get through the pipeline. Recently, the police department came to PoliceApp with interrelated questions: the number of recruits has fallen, and the turnover rate of new employees has risen.

This is where behavior and psychosocial goals are tempered social media The platform came in. LAPD is one of many police departments and recruits by targeting ads based on personality rather than identity.

Dallas Thompson, Sensis’s account director, explained that the police agency wants job advertisements to make the position appear benevolent and community-oriented. These advertisements reflect (and hope to attract) officials who are service-oriented, less financially driven, understand prejudices, and have a high risk tolerance. Sensis cross-referenced survey data with lookalike audiences on social media platforms to determine the characteristics of what the police agency described as ideal candidates: respect for authority, awareness of social prejudices, interest in service, and willingness to compromise social life for the following purposes and their profession career.

The alliance between advertising technology and policing is unexpected, but the technology itself is very suitable for organizing users according to their personality. Social media platforms invest a lot of resources to track user behavior (on-site and off-site) and pay attention to user reactions. They use this information to infer user interests and personalities, create familiar feedback loops, and drive millions of people to use apps such as YouTube and Facebook.

Recruiters design advertisements that reflect these values ​​and place them online. Wendy Koslicki, assistant professor of criminal justice and criminology at Ball State University, studied hundreds of hours of police recruitment videos. She said the police are fine-tuning the advertisement to show “guardian” images. She said that in order to address demographic restrictions, agencies have included women and people of color in their videos.

She explained that these videos downplay the weapons and rarely show police arrests or riding in police cars. Instead, they emphasized community work, with pictures showing police interacting with young people in community activities, patrolling on foot, and giving lectures in class. Koslicki said these videos often contain “statements such as’we are a community-oriented department’ or’we value cooperation with different communities, and we value letting officials live in the communities where they work.'”


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