Governments around the world have now been using social media to communicate with the public for more than a decade. Government agencies’ approach to social media use, however, varies significantly depending on country and leadership: from deliberate citizen involvement in government decision-making in Iceland to customer service support in Canada. This study examines approaches to government social media use (Twitter, Facebook and YouTube) by federal government departments/ministries in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom (UK). Specifically, it investigates the following research questions:

  • Are there any differences between government use in social media between Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the UK and what can Canada learn from others to implement in communication practices on government social media accounts?
  • Are governments preventing the spread of misinformation on their social media accounts and how?
  • How and why social media users use government social media?

The methodology involves a mix of methods including social network and content analysis of publicly available social media, and semi-structured interviews with social media users and public servants. English language social media accounts of the following government agencies are studied:

 CanadaAustraliaNew ZealandUK
ImmigrationImmigration, Refugees and Citizenship CanadaDepartment of Home AffairsMinistry of Business, Innovation and EmploymentHome Office
HealthHealth Canada and Public Health Agency of CanadaDepartment of Health and Aged CareMinistry of HealthDepartment of Health and Social Care  
Environment and Climate ChangeEnvironment and Climate ChangeDepartment of Climate Change, Energy, the Environment and WaterMinistry for the EnvironmentDepartment for  Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

If you decide to participate in the study, you will be asked to participate in a research interview. The interview will take between 30 to 45 minutes, and you will get a $25 gift card (equivalent in Canadian dollars) for your participation. The interview will take place via Zoom or Microsoft Teams or, if you prefer, by phone or in person at a quite location in Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area, Ontario, Canada (for example, in a private room in a public library).

Participation in this study is completely voluntary. There will be no consequences of any kind if you decline your participation. Furthermore, you will be able to withdraw your participation, following your consent.

Results of the study will be shared with policy makers and public servants responsible for maintaining government social media accounts to improve existing policy and public service delivery.

For more information about the study, please refer to the Letter of Information/Consent (social media users)

Thank you for your interest! If you have any questions, please email Dr. Maria Gintova at

This study has been reviewed and received ethics clearance from the McMaster Research Ethics Board.