The impact of e-government usage on social media platforms: problems, challenges and effectiveness

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Research Questions

  • Does social media help the government official to reach to bigger audience?
  • Is it safe for government to use social media?
  • How can E-government improve social media without affecting the data safety?

With the invention of web 2.0, social media and e-government has raised a lot of interest. The use of technology and the internet by the government will continue grown and increase as technologies becomes more advance (Dadashzadeh, 2010 p. 81). However, many concerns still exist on the future of social media and e-government.  Social media has helped to improve citizen engagement and service delivery through E-government. In light of this development, it is only prudent to review the impact of E-government on social media, its impact, as well as the problems and challenges that have been experienced in the application of this technology.

Social media is defined as a set of online tools that are centered and around social interaction (Hansen, Shneiderman, & Smith, 2011). Today, there are different social media platforms around the internet such as Facebook, twitter, Snapchat, Flickr, Youtube, among others.  According to Bertot, Jaeger, and Hansen, (2012 p. 34), social media is more appealing to users as it allows e-participation. There are four main strengths associated with social media which include empowerment, time, participation, and collaboration. Social media by its nature provide people and institutions an opportunity to collaborate and participate in various discussions. It provides governments with an opportunity to publish and broadcast their information without having to spend a lot of resources. Social media allows people to access information in real time.

E-government can be defined as the use of information communication technology (ICT) by the government to provide public service (Magro, 2012 p. 152). The main goals of e-government are to improve government processes, to build external interactions with the society, and to connect citizens. Before joining any social media site, any government must take into consideration factors such as the pages must be activity points and not fan pages, they must be active users providing information in real time, and the site must also be interactive. According to Kavanaugh et al. (2012 p. 485), social media provides governments with an opportunity to improve transparency through active communication with the citizens and provision of up to date information. If such sites are used effectively, citizens are more inspired to participate and contribute towards the improvement of service delivery.

Social media has been very instrumental in connecting people all over the globe. It provides a cheap and efficient way through which people can communicate and interact. One of the main benefits of social media is that it provides a means of communication through which people can share information and view different content within their connections (Linders, 2012 p. 448). As social media becomes more popular, people are shifting from being content readers to generators. It has become an important platform for providing feedback. The flow of information has become two way and governments are now using it to assess the quality of their services. The fact that social media allows generation of various types of content including videos, photographs, text, documents and music has made it possible to reach a larger audience (Criado, Sandoval-Almazan, and Gil-Garcia, 2013 p. 320). Almost all governments across the globe have social media pages which they use to communicate with their citizens. Through social media, it is possible for government officials to reach bigger audience. They can interact with them and provide guidance on various issues.

The issue of data security is a major concern for the government. Governments deal with critical information that must be protected at all costs. However, based on past experience, social media is not hack proof. In the last couple of years, a number of government social media pages have been hacked. According to Morabito (2015 p. 30), in 2015, the twitter account of the US military accounts was hacked by Islamic State. In the same year, the Kenyan government twitter accounts were hacked by an anonymous hacker. This is proof that indeed government social media sites can be hacked and accessed illegally. However, with the new developments in cyber security, proper security measures can be put in place to secure the sites. With such measures in place, it would be safe for the government to use social media for communication. As Morabito (2015) indicates, one of the main reasons why hackers can attack government social media sites is when they feel that it could be hiding some information. By regularly updating the citizens on various issues, the security of social media sites can be improved.

There are a number of ways through which E-government services on social media can be improved without compromising data safety. First, there is need to ensure that a feedback system is implemented for citizens to give their perception on government services. Different programs have been developed to interlink various social media sites. Through such applications, government officials can communicate with citizens in real time (Kavanaugh et al., 2012 p. 486). Secondly, governments should employ communication officers to monitor their social media sites at all times. This way, it will be easy to guide the citizens and answer their questions on various services. Thirdly, there is need to ensure that social media sites are fully secured. They can use encryption authentication systems to protect the sites (Bonsón, Torres, Royo, and Flores, 2012 p. 125). Such a measure would help to improve the security of information shared via the social media site.

Fourth, government institutions can conduct polls on social media on questions that are related to the quality of their services. The main advantage of this strategy is that it allows people to vote anonymously. According to Khasawneh, and Abu-Shanab (2012 p. 13), social media polls provide results that are honest and believable. Using this information, the government will be able to improve the quality of their services. Fifth, the government can also open interactive sessions with the citizens. Facebook Live provides an opportunity for people to interact in real time and ask question which are answered instantly. Such platforms can help cultivate public goodwill and support thereby reducing any security threats to their systems and data. Finally, government can also improve their social media presence and appeal by engaging public talent (Morabito, 2015 p. 31). Creative people should be hired to develop better content to reach a larger audience.

Primary Research Method

For the purpose of this research, surveys and cases studies will be used as the primary research methods. The first step will be to identify governments that have been very successful in using social media to implement E-government services. Secondly, a detailed research will be conducted on the extent to which these governments have utilized social media in service delivery. Thirdly, the information collected will be analyzed to determine the trends and the impact that social media has on E-government. The statistical data collected during the study will be presented in a tabular format. For presentation purposes, charts and graphs will be generated. Finally, a summary of the findings will be documented. The selected research methods will provide factual information that is verifiable. A research based on information whose credibility is unquestionable is able to achieve its primary objective. The main shortcoming of the approach may be the fact that the research will have to rely on secondary sources for information. However, the question of data authenticity can be solved by ensuring that the information comes from credible sources.

Audience

The project will help to assess the impact of social media on government services and identify improvements that should be made to improve service delivery. Government institutions as well as the citizens will benefit from the project. The outcome of the project will provide a benchmark on which various the government can determine the level of effectiveness of their services. Solutions will be developed for the problems and challenges identified in the research. Through the implementation of the recommendations made at the end of the research, governments will be able to improve the quality of their services. Citizens will also learn on how they can contribute towards the improvement of government services.

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  1. Bertot, J.C., Jaeger, P.T. and Hansen, D., 2012. The impact of polices on government social media usage: Issues, challenges, and recommendations. Government information quarterly29(1), pp.30-40.
  2. Bonsón, E., Torres, L., Royo, S. and Flores, F., 2012. Local e-government 2.0: Social media and corporate transparency in municipalities. Government information quarterly29(2), pp.123-132.
  3. Criado, J.I., Sandoval-Almazan, R. and Gil-Garcia, J.R., 2013. Government innovation through social media. Government Information Quarterly30(4), pp.319-326.
  4. Dadashzadeh, M., 2010. Social media in government: From eGovernment to eGovernance. Journal of Business & Economics Research8(11), p.81.
  5. Hansen, D.L., Shneiderman, B. and Smith, M.A., 2011. Social media: New technologies of collaboration. Analyzing Social Media Networks with NodeXL, pp.11-29.
  6. Kavanaugh, A.L., Fox, E.A., Sheetz, S.D., Yang, S., Li, L.T., Shoemaker, D.J., Natsev, A. and Xie, L., 2012. Social media use by government: From the routine to the critical. Government Information Quarterly29(4), pp.480-491.
  7. Khasawneh, R.T. and Abu-Shanab, E.A., 2013. E-government and social media sites: the role and impact. World Journal of Computer Application and Technology1(1), pp.10-17.
  8. Linders, D., 2012. From e-government to we-government: Defining a typology for citizen coproduction in the age of social media. Government Information Quarterly29(4), pp.446-454.
  9. Magro, M.J., 2012. A review of social media use in e-government. Administrative Sciences2(2), pp.148-161.
  10. Morabito, V., 2015. Big data and analytics for government innovation. In Big Data and Analytics (pp. 23-45). Springer International Publishing.
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