Social media increasingly condition how public authorities build legitimacy when engaging with citizens. In this paper we report on a study of the increasing use of and exposure to social media and social networking platforms in two Swedish public authorities, the Social Insurance Agency (SIA) and the police force. Although formally grounded on the same civic principles, the two authorities have significantly different approaches to social media as a way to generate internal and external legitimacy. SIA has mainly implemented an e-government approach to rationalize services to become more efficient and customer oriented, by using social media as one of several media channels. The police force, however, adopted an e-governance approach to build legitimacy through interaction and reflexive discussion between government and citizens as a way to create transparency and nuance citizens’ attitude towards the police force. Building on a two-dimensional public government/governance framework, we reflect on how the two studied authorities’ social media practices shape and are shaped by different governing practices in their legitimacy work.

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