Citing Facebook, Social Media & Websites in General

Is a website a publication?

We've had two decades of debate as to whether a website is a publication or a "library"—and, by extension, how we should cite what we find online.

EE's position has made it simple to cite materials: 

  1. A website is a publication—the ultimate form of publication, distributed to the whole wide world!
  2. Citing a website follows the same basic formula for citing any other "standalone" publication such as a book, map, or CD/DVD.

Others have argued that sites such as Facebook, with many different people participating, are just a "tech platform." That stance creates a problem for us when we need to cite Facebook material. Individual pages are not standalone publications; they are intrinsically part of a bigger entity.

In court briefs this week, Facebook attorneys dropped its own argument that Facebook is just a tech platform and acknowledged that the corporation is indeed a publisher.…/facebook-mark-zuckerberg-plat…. Facebook (the site) is its publication. While EE itself was certainly not part of the proceedings (it would have been good PR if we could have managed that) the EE model for citing Facebook and other websites is upheld.

When we cite Facebook, or any other website, we're citing a publication. More specifically, a standalone publication, for which the basic book model covers all essentials. When we cite an individually titled "page" at Facebook, we cite it as though we were citing an individually titled chapter in that book. When we wish to cite a specific item within that publication, we identify the specific item at the end of the citation, where we would cite a specific page, map, figure, etc.

"Title of Individual Chapter or Website Page," _Title of Website or Book, in Italics_ (Place of Publication = URL : Date), specific item.

"Evidence Explained," FACEBOOK ( : 4 July 2018), posting titled "QUICKTIPS: Citing Facebook, Social Media & Websites in General."