Referencing to Social Media

Social media have turned into a valid source of information due to technological advances and the increasing importance of article-level metrics. In general, there are 3 ways you can cite social media sources:

  • with a URL
  • as a personal communication
  • as a reference entry with in-text citation

In the following, the different forms of citations are outlined:

URL: A URL can be used to refer to a social media website in a general rather than to specific content from the given website. For instance, when referring to Twitter or Facebook (as opposed to a tweet on Twitter or a post on Facebook), you may simply provide the websites’ URL in the parenthesis.


 “The journal PLOS Medicine maintains an active Twitter account ( where latest information about the journal is posted.”

Personal communication: Content from a social media website may be cited in the style of personal communication in case the readers don’t have access to the content. This happens when the author of the cited content has limited access to the content through changing privacy settings or in case the communication has been made through a private message on a social networking website.

For instance:

“G.I. Park (personal communication, March 24, 2014) stated that the current education system in Japan offers certain advantages.”

Reference list entry: Content from social media sources may be included as a reference list entry along with corresponding in-text citation in case it is possible to retrieve the quoted or paraphrased content.

In the following, social media citation formats from American Psychological Association (APA) and Modern Language Association (MLA) are compiled :

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