Tweeting MPs: Digital Engagement between Citizens and Members of Parliament in the UK


Disengagement and disenchantment with the Parliamentary process is an important concern in today’s Western democracies. Members of Parliament (MPs) in the UK are therefore seeking new ways to engage with citizens, including being on digital platforms such as Twitter. In recent years, nearly all (579 out of 650) MPs have created Twitter accounts, and have amassed huge followings comparable to a sizable fraction of the country’s population. This paper seeks to shed light on this phenomenon by examining the volume and nature of the interaction between MPs and citizens. We find that although there is an information overload on MPs, attention on individual MPs is focused during small time windows when something topical may be happening relating to them. MPs manage their interaction strategically, replying selectively to UK-based citizens and thereby serving in their role as elected representatives, and using retweets to spread their party’s message. Most promisingly, we find that Twitter opens up new avenues with substantial volumes of cross-party interaction, between MPs of one party and citizens who support (follow) MPs of other parties.

TweetingMPs DataSet

Following Twitter’s Terms of Usage we will only be able to share the Tweet IDs used in our paper. This is being made available to the research community. If you are interested in using this data, please send us an email according to the Request Data section and indicate which of following parts you need in the email.

  1. Incoming Dataset: In CSV format, contains Tweet ID of incoming mentions to UK MPs who are on Twitter

  2. Outgoing Dataset: In CSV format, contains Tweet IDs of outgoing activity (posts, replies, retweets) by MPs.

You can find the format of the dataset from here.

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If you are interested in using this data, please fill the form to to get the link where you can download the data.

We are sharing the dataset under the terms and conditions specified here and following Twitter's Terms of Usage. Please note that submitting the form indicates that you accept the terms and conditions of the data. In the form, please indicate which part of the dataset you need. If you do not get any email notification for your logged request within 24 hours, please e-mail us at netsys[at]

Dataset Terms and Conditions

  1. You will use the data solely for the purpose of non-profit research or non-profit education.

  2. You will respect the privacy of end users and organizations that may be identified in the data. You will not attempt to reverse engineer, decrypt, de-anonymize, derive or otherwise re-identify anonymized information.

  3. You will not distribute the data beyond your immediate research group.

  4. If you create a publication using our datasets, please cite our papers as follows.

  title={Tweeting MPs: Digital Engagement between Citizens and Members of Parliament in the UK},
  author={Agarwal, Pushkal and Sastry, Nishanth and Wood, Edward},
  booktitle={Proceedings of the International AAAI Conference on Web and Social Media},