Communities and Social Media

Relationships between government and citizen via Twitter.


Twitter has become one of the ways for people to connect, unite, share common interest and receive updated news around the world. Recently, it has become a place to spread awareness and gain attention for issues that are obscure. Therefore, this paper will elucidate the relationships between government and citizen that has developed on Twitter under the circumstances of protesting, collaborating and raising awareness in order to achieve the intended objectives.

Did you know that internet was invented in 1983 by the Advance Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET) in USA (Andrews, 2019)? Even so, why was it invented? It was first to catered the militaries and scientists to communicate easier but then, it got popular and formed into the internet that we know today (Gharbawi, n.d.). We are living in an era where the internet is still expanding and where the technologies are invented to do what we used to think impossible such as how we are able to connect across the globe. The rapid development has made the interactions between people around the world becoming simpler and easier. was the first social networking sites where users can set up a profile page, make friends and send messages within its network (Samur, 2018). It was developed in 1997. Then, the social media platforms started to emerge in the early 2000’s where they can obtain and access a wider range of options for social medias. In particular, MySpace was created in 2003, Facebook which is the most popular and has the highest users until today was created in 2004, Twitter in 2006 then came Instagram in 2010, a photo sharing platform which has more than a billion active users today and still counting (Samur, 2018) (Most used social media 2021, 2021). It has been the cornerstone of the world ever since. This paper will elucidate the relationships between government and citizen that has developed on Twitter under the circumstances of protesting, collaborating and raising awareness in order to achieve the intended objectives.

According to The purpose and power of protest (2021) an article written by ADL (2021), “A protest is an event or action where people gather with others to publicly express their opinions about something that is happening in society”. Protest happens when incidents that are lack of fairness took place. Contemporarily, social media platform has a great influence on its users as well as it takes lesser time to reach and influence the intended audiences. Numerous of incidents that are reported in the news involves communities utilising social media platform to response to major incidents such as racial injustice, human rights and political issues. To demonstrate, police brutality incident took place in 2020 involving the mistreatment of George Floyd which led him to his death has caused a stir both virtually and physically in the US (Hill, Tiefenthäler, Trierbert, & etc., 2021). Every individual that felt connected to George Floyd’s death whether they are a part of the people of colour community or being a part of a community that demands for human right stood up for his death. This unnecessary death has opened up a pandora’s box which led to many more injustice death of innocent people of colour to be exposed. A hashtag has been brought back for this movement and is still being used until now which is #BlackLivesMatter. The hashtag was founded in 2013 by Alicia Garza,  Patrisse Cullors and Opal Tometi in a Facebook post with the same reason which is racial injustice (Anderson, Barthel, Perrin, & Vogels, 2020). However, people were not aware as social medias were not widely used.

Figure 1 George Floyd protest, by Fortune, 2020

This time, George Floyd death has caused an outrage to the communities in the US and made the hashtag trending worldwide which research has found that “8.8 million uses of #BlackLivesMatter as national and global protests spread” on May 28, 2020 (Anderson, Barthel, Perrin, & Vogels, 2020). It was the highest usage of  #BlackLivesMatter since the 2016 incident which had more than a million (Anderson, Barthel, Perrin, & Vogels, 2020). During the movement period, thousands of people participated in the protest of police brutality both physically and virtually demanding the fair death of George Floyd. Particularly, latest update, information, petitions and funding links on the movement were being spread like a wildfire on a global scale on Twitter demanding people to educate themselves and be a part of the movement. Physical protest concerning thousands of people were able to be pulled off through the sharing of information from one social media to the other however, a number of casualties were also reported. This incident certainly has shown the worst of the United States and that people are still being treated for the colour of their skin. Thus, allowing different community of people to support and demand to put a stop on the immoral act of a government body proposed that Twitter and other social platforms play a big role in making the movement happened. The emotions of users can be captured and influenced by a post that affects their emotional and mental state, enabling them to relate to the situations others are facing.

Collaboration between users of distinct parties, specially involving citizens and governments on social media is a topic that has evolved vastly. Government bodies particularly, the police has joined other public and private organisations in creating their own social media accounts which allow them to provide first-hand latest news and updates to their followers. Taking this as a way to widen and develop their service, connecting and collaborating with the citizens has improve their system to protect and serve the country. Specifically, there was a riot in England back in 2011 due to an injustice death of Mark Duncan that was shot dead by police officers. Mobile technologies including Twitter and other social media application has developed the process to bring together a riot. Taking a shorter time, it is known for its mobilization of a “mediated crowd” (Panagiotopoulos, Bigdeli & Sams, 2014). This crowd is influenced by the regularly shared information which affect their decision to whether participate in an unlawful act or not.

Figure 2 The riots in 2011 spread to Hackney, east London, by Guy Smallman, 2011

Further, the riot has made people took advantage of the event by looting off of the businesses. This has caused businesses in London to face billions of losses. The following has led to the collaboration between citizen and government through Twitter in order to provide a safer place for the communities. Citizen and government were showed to have interacted mostly through Twitter as well as providing citizen news update about the situations during the riots incident. Citizen would “helps the government be more responsive and effective” such as citizen reporting websites (Panagiotopoulos, Bigdeli & Sams, 2014). According to experts, Panagiotopoulos, Bigdeli & Sams (2014), “Twitter provides an immediate and flexible tool to disseminate information and communicate through brief public messages”. Again, citizen were joining forces with police to find looters that has taken the advantage of the event (Panagiotopoulos, Bigdeli & Sams, 2014). Citizen has directly helped governments to resolve the issue faster through twitter and this illustrate how the existence of Twitter has helped people to connect facilely.

 Raising awareness is not a foreign act to do in this day and age. As claimed by SDG Accountability Handbook (2021), “it is a process that seeks to inform and educate people about a topic or issue with the intention of influencing their attitudes, behaviours and beliefs towards the achievement of a defined purpose or goal”. Twitter is one of the best social platforms to raise awareness on as Twitter has the feature where people are able to share others’ opinion and experience simply by ‘retweeting’ another person’s tweet. This suggests that the tweet will be seen by the followers of the person who shares the tweet enabling it to spread and gain attention from Twitter users and so the concatenation continues until it becomes trending or popular. In particular, latterly an incident happened in Malaysia where a high school student, Ain Husniza Saiful Nizam, voiced out through an application called TikTok about her teacher rape jokes which he said “do not rape people that are under 18 where you could get punished instead, rape people that are over 18”.

Figure 3 A screenshot of Ain Husniza’s TikTok video posted on Twitter, by @ant33ater, 2021.

This had her and her friends appalled however, the boys in her class just laugh it off. The video was brought to her Twitter account and received an overwhelmed response where it reached 33.1k retweets and 30.8k likes and made #MakeSchoolASaferPlace trending (Nizam, 2021). Yet, she received rape threat from one of her classmates and backlashed or even lewd remarks from some of the social media users and teachers as well after the video sparked an outraged on Twitter (South China Morning Post, 2021). She then lodged a police report and received a response from the Deputy Inspector-General of Police (IGP) himself saying that the rape threat as maybe a joke (MalaysiaKini, 2021). After the incident, many users on Twitter started to voice out their experience and raise awareness about rape culture which expresses that victim is always to be question and at fault and never the predator. As a result, many Malaysian artists supported her through Twitter and gave their full support on her movement and raising awareness. This movement has gave people either boys or girls, men or women the courage to stood up and speak up for themselves instead of forsake the occurrence.

Next, every matter that occurs in social media especially regarding sensitive issues such as politics, discrimination of races, entertainments and environmental crisis can easily reach to people due to the evolving of internet and technology at the present time. Social media always bring news that even faster than the normal newspaper or through the main stream media such as television news and radio channel. Furthermore, society is more easily connected to the social media platform where everything is on their fingertips.  This is due to social medias are easier to access, and gain attention around the world.

In the final analysis, Twitter has changed over time in the best possible way to provide a service that suits the current needs of its users. Twitter has become a one stop place where it not only acts as a platform which allow users to keep in touch and share pictures, but also a platform where it can gather and unite a public who have mutual beliefs and opinions. Moreover, great outcome can be produced and achieved through collaborations between two distinct parties that take place on Twitter by collecting feedbacks and sharing updates. It also indirectly facilitate each other’s’ work. Lastly, awareness regarding current issues and sensitive topics can also be raised through this platform. This enables the society to learn about current issues and educate themselves as well as find out ways to help in creating a better world for everyone. In conclusion, Twitter users should know how to fully utilise this never-ending evolving platform in order to obtain the benefits of using them. In my point of view, governments need to take citizen’s word earnestly as they are actually serving for them and not the other way around. Rather than fighting against it, governments should listen and take action on the person who is accountable in the future.  


ADL. (2021). The purpose and power of protest.

Anderson, M., Barthel, M., Perrin, A., & Vogels, E.A. (2020). #BlackLivesMatter surges on Twitter after George Floyd’s death. Pew Research Center.

Andrews, E. (2019). Who invented the internet? History.,invented%20the%20World%20Wide%20Web.

Gharbawi, A. (n.d.). Revolution of the internet.,for%20computers%20in%20the%201960s.

Guy Smallman. (2011). The riots in 2011 spread to Hackney, east London.

Hess, C.T., B.S.N, R.N. & CWOCN. (2011). Social Media Collaboration Checklist. Advances in Skin & Wound Care, 24(7), 336.

Hill, E., Tiefenthäler, A., Trierbert, C., Jordan, D., Willis, H., & Stein, R. (2021, May 31). How George Floyd was killed in police custody. The New York Times.

Fortune. (2020). George Floyd protest.

Jun, S.W. (2021, April 27). Teen who exposed teacher’s rape jokes gets backing from celebrities, her #MakeSchoolASaferPlace trending for a good cause. Malay Mail.

MalaysiaKini. (2021). Deputy IGP describes rape threat against teen as ‘maybe a joke’.

Nizam, A.H.S. [@ant33ater]. (2021, April 24). Tw// R4P3 JOKES, VERBAL H4R4SSM3NT [Image attached] [Tweet]. Twitter.

Panagiotopoulos, P., Bigdeli, A.Z., & Sams, S. (2014). Government Information Quarterly: Citizen-government collaborations on social media:The case of Twitter in the 2011 riots in England. ScienceDirect Journal, 31(3), 349-357.

Samur, A. (2018, November 22). The history of social media: 29+ key moments. Hootsuite.,and%20send%20messages%20within%20networks.

SDG Accountability Handbook.  (2021). Raising awareness through public outreach campaigns.,a%20defined%20purpose%20or%20goal.

South China Morning Post. (2021, April 30). #MakeSchoolASaferPlace: Malaysian teen who exposed teacher’s rape jokes in viral TikTok fights back against abuse.

14 thoughts on “Relationships between government and citizen via Twitter.

  1. Hello Izzati,
    It was interesting to read your paper and you have raised some good points.I like how you picked Twitter as one of the most political and educational platforms for online advocacy compared to other social media platforms out there.
    Twitter is a way that people consume news that is more accessible and also has the ability to make things go viral. However, like everything has its positive and negative side I believe Twitter can also cause more harm if it is not used properly. For instance, because Twitter allows anyone to tweet their views, this could lead to criticism and misjudgements along with spreading misinformation that can lead to fake news. What are your thoughts on that?

    Also, you may have a look at my which talks about the #MeToo movement focusing on its positive effect.

  2. Hello Izzati

    Thank you for a great read! Freedom of expression on social media platforms of content relevant to users makes it appealing for users to communicate their thoughts and ideas. Like your paper highlights, social media platforms play a big role in activism, organization, and mobilization of social and political causes. Twitter has been adopted by protestors and activists for collective action for their movements where people campaign for change. Such collective actions on Twitter draws attention to pressing social and political issues with hashtag campaigns geared towards bringing about change. Hashtags on Twitter like #BlackLivesMatter, #MeToo, facilitate visibility and support for issues being campaigned collaboratively.

    Thank you

  3. Hey there.
    Super interesting paper. I found twitter so interesting and yet so easily forgotten since other platforms have taken over the social media world.
    Twitter has always been seen as the platform for political debate but as it ages, why are other platforms taking over? TikTok for example has become the new platform for activism and social change, why so? I question the relationship the government has with these platforms as we have seen Twitter take a large hit, will TikTok follow suit with governments banning topics and ideas being promoted?
    Here is another interesting text if you care a read:
    Again, well done!

  4. Hi Izzati! I enjoyed on reading your paper. I totally agree one of the good thing every happen with the presence of social media especially in your cases, Twitter increase the relationship between government and their people, by giving any latest news and raise the society awareness that government listened to them.

    My question is, with the presence of instagram, with their live video feature and live QnA feature on IGTV or Insta story, making them easier to reach their intended people or audience. Especially government body and their people in comparison with twitter feature. Which one is the better one and why?

  5. Hi Izzati,

    I also wrote about Government using Social Media to to interact positively with citizens. Your topic seems to take more of an activist approach and I’m interested to understand how your reading addressed the actual practicalities of gathering online information. I think an assumption of your paper is that Governments are monitoring peoples social media use to gather information. But this in itself poses ethical questions. I did think citizens would feel very comfortable to know this goes on (although it certainly does), but Government surveillance has deeper, unsettling connotations. There’s an interesting article on this written by Viktor Bekkers, Arthur Edwards and Dennis de Kool called Social media monitoring: Responsive governance in the shadow of surveillance?

    In democratic countries, like Australia there are lobby groups and informed community groups that work with Government, and pressure Government to address issues and problems within our system. There’s no doubt that a huge wave of solidarity on social media is hard to ignore, but as for coming up with workable solutions, posting #blacklivesmatter on your Twitter account doesn’t necessarily help. There are many many many tiny issues that build up to a systemic issue like racism and these need to be dismantled meticulously in order to fix such an enormous issue.

    Arguably another problem is citizens voting behaviour. In a democratic system we should be voting for Governments and politicians that best reflect our values, but how many Australians who post #blacklivesmatter have continued to vote in Governments who defend offshore detention centres that disproportionately affect people of colour and violate humanitarian conventions? So when politicians see trending movements like #blacklivesmatter they have a lot of evidence that suggests people don’t truly deeply care for the matter.

    My papers argues for Governments to be more transparent online, and to engage meaningfully with citizens online in order to create spaces where citizens can actively participate in public processes. I feel it’s time for Governments to move away for deeply bureaucratised institutions, and open their processes for further participation and interaction with citizens on a daily basis. I’d love your comments on my research as the two do compliment each other.

  6. Hi Izzati,

    Thank you for a very interesting conference paper that I thoroughly enjoyed from beginning to end. You raise some very pertinent points about the advantages and positivity social media can bring to users lives and how quickly it can generate backing of a movement not just locally or nationally but on an international footing as in the #BlackLivesMatter movement. Protests and matches were organised simultaneously all around the globe through the auspices of social media which could never have happened without these new technologies.
    As an older student I must admit at never being a big fan of social media because of all the uncensored bigotry and bullying that goes on but I agree with your conclusion that governments should take greater notice of those things that are most important to their constituents and act accordingly as governments are put in place to act on behalf of the people.
    Thanks again for a great paper Izzati.


  7. Hi Izzati!
    I like how you’ve decided to go with Twitter as I would agree that Twitter is one of the better platforms when it comes to new sources and discussions around topics that people may find taboo. Twitter is one that offers a variety of tools such as the hashtag function which allows for mini virtual communities to be formed and I think this is amazing as it allows people from different geographical backgrounds and locations to come together to speak on topics they find interesting.
    Twitter is great for providing a platform where users can initiate causes and for activists to speak up – and we see this through movements such as the MeToo Movement and the BLM movement and we see how successful it has been in raising awareness and in transpiring the movements into the offline world through protests. However, I think Twitter can also cause more harm than good if it is not used in the correct manner. In other words, due to the fact that Twitter allows anyone to put forth their views, this could lead to criticism and misjudgements along with misinformation which could be more damaging. What are your thoughts on this?

    I’ve written a paper on Twitter and its ability to establish online communities through the function such as hashtags, using the Me Too Movement as the primary example. I’d love for you to check it out and let me know your thoughts 🙂
    Here’s the link!

  8. Hi Izzati,
    You mention that Twitter was used as a platform “to bring together a riot” which led to the looting of private businesses and the damaging of public property. The rules and regulations of Twitter state that they would shut down anyone that uses their platform to incite violence. I am curious as to whether the people that called for these riots were dealt with appropriately just as Donald Trump was banned for tweeting messages that incited violence. What do you think?

    Thanks for this very interesting paper

    1. Hi William,
      Thank you for reading my paper and sorry I took too long to reply.
      Yes, I do agree with you as every social medias has positive and negative consequences with its currently expanding advancements and accessibility. In my opinion, these actions can’t be avoided on any social platforms due to its easy access. However, the users itself can educate and create awareness about it on Twitter or other social platforms as well so users could be aware of it and to not be convinced by any of their ideologies. Plus, they can also do a mass report on the account which it can get suspended by Twitter.

  9. Hi Izzati,

    A good paper with some interesting points! I think Twitter is such a powerful platform with the way in which it can deliver short and sharp messages where a hashtag can be just as important as a written post. While Twitter has created a platform for people to raise awareness on important social issues such as BLM or for government bodies such as police to widen their service, do you think on the flip side the accessibility and advancements of Twitter has created an area for alt-right groups such as QAnon to become more powerful in delivering their extreme far-right views and ideologies?


    1. Hi William,

      Thank you for reading my paper and sorry I took too long to reply.
      Yes, I do agree with you as every social medias has positive and negative consequences with its currently expanding advancements and accessibility. In my opinion, these actions can’t be avoided on any social platforms due to its easy access. However, the users itself can educate and create awareness about it on Twitter or other social platforms as well so users could be aware of it and to not be convinced by any of their ideologies. Plus, they can also do a mass report on the account which it can get suspended by Twitter.

  10. Hi Izzati!

    I admire how you chose to write about Twitter above all other social media sites since it is one of the most political and educational platforms for online advocacy in comparison to Instagram, TikTok, or Facebook which usually has a more social and casual approach.

    As you said, social media overall is a faster and more accessible platform for people to get their news compared to a newspaper or radio. Even if they do not actively seek out news on their screens, they will be impacted by some sort of news content through online influencers posting on their Twitter. It really is a never-ending evolving platform as you mentioned, and I admire how you ended your paper with a powerful statement to the government which clearly states your stand. Twitter really has revolutionised news and media spread pushing social change and education.

    It is interesting to see how you took a middle-ground perspective between the government and the citizens rather than just focusing on one which was an excellent academic choice on your part. Also, I love how current you made your paper, using current affairs like discussions about George Floyd and examples like the riots in London. The images help your paper a lot too as the visualisation gives me as a reader further context and referencing.

    My conference paper has a basic and over-arching stand on how social media like TikTok impacts users’ sexuality expression, yet there are quite a few similarities in our discussion of how communities communicate through social media for awareness. I would appreciate your feedback on it if you would like to take a look.

    Thank you!
    – Rachelle

  11. Hello,
    Thankyou for your paper. It has raised some unique points. I believe Twitter to be the most powerful social media platform due to its trending function, as you have eluded too within your paper. Twitter itself is said to have revolutionised the dessimination of informantion. With this in mind, the Twitter platform has the ability to rupture and nurture credability given its “viral” information sharing attributes. Many government departments and world leaders will use Twitter for this reason. You make a good point when it comes to being educated and using Twitter to its full potential. As you would not want to start a “trending war” on this particular platform against anyone that knows exactly what they are doing. I guess my main point here is that for every positive element Twitter has, there is an underlying element of misuse that can be detrimental to any cause. Donald Trump was able to successfully use Twitter to pretty much claim 2016 presidency, whilst on the other hand, conspirist groups will use the platform in order to spead propagandah in order to evoke community unrest an anti-social behaviours. I agree if Twitter is used for the right reasons, by the right people in high places, then it could revolutionise the way citizens are able to communicate with government departments. But for now, l think Twitter as an online medium hasn’t matured enough yet, so one should be wary of what they read.
    Well done – Great topic.


  12. I love Twitter as a news source, especially when news is breaking. Unfortunately a lot of the information flooding out tends to be wrong, but some is right. I learn about news events minutes or hours before they are mentioned on “old media”.
    In the pandemic, #medtwitter has been very actively commenting on and questioning the management of the #covid19 pandemic. We tweeps (tweeting people) have unprecedented access to famous and influential doctors, politicians and journalists. The influence of this group of people has moved governments from regarding it as being “droplet spread” to taking an “aerosol spread” approach which has saved lives.

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