• 3-minute read
  • 10th August 2017

APA Referencing – Citing Social Media

Social media distracts people from their work more often than contributing to it. But this isn’t always the case! You can even cite social media in essays if you need to. Here’s how to do it with APA referencing (7th edition).

When to Cite Social Media

Twitter, Facebook and similar sites aren’t traditional academic sources. As such, if you have a choice between citing a book by an academic author and a post from Twitter, you should always go for the published source (even if they say the same thing).

But you may need to cite social media if you’re examining public responses to something (e.g. a company statement on Facebook) or writing about social media itself. Just remember to check how reliable the source is first!

In-Text Citations

APA doesn’t require a full citation if you’re just mentioning a social media account in passing. In this case, the same rules apply as when citing a whole website, so all you need to do is give the account URL in brackets:

The Australian Broadcasting Company’s Facebook account (https://www.facebook.com/abc) has over 500,000 subscribers.

However, if citing a specific post, you should cite it in full. This means giving the surname of the author and the year that it was posted:

The dates and location of the Asbestos Safety and Eradication Summit 2017 were announced on Twitter (The Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency, 2017).

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As above, you can give an organisation name if the account isn’t run by a named individual. You should also add any social media post cited in the text to the reference list.

Reference List

There are sites that automatically generate references from social media posts (e.g. Tweet2Cite for Twitter). However, it’s a good idea to check these are accurate. For a social media post in APA referencing, the correct format in the reference list is:

Surname, Initial(s). [Screen name/given name]. (Year, Month Day). Title or excerpt. [Platform]. URL

You can use the screen name in place of the poster’s real name if it isn’t available. And since most social media posts don’t have titles, you can give an excerpt of around 40 words instead. The tweet cited above, for example, would be listed as:

The Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency [AsbestosSafety]. (2017, May 18). We are proud to announce Asbestos Safety and Eradication Summit 2017 will be 26-28 Nov at Old Parliament House, Canberra. Watch this space! [Tweet]. https://twitter.com/AsbestosSafety/status/865062886355329025

Make sure that the URL given is for the post cited, not just the account it was sent from.

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