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Account(share)ability through social media during the COVID-19 emergency: the case of universities

Eleonora Masiero (Department of Economics, Management, Mathematics and Statistics “Bruno de Finetti”, University of Trieste, Trieste, Italy)
Giulia Leoni (Department of Economics, University of Genoa, Genoa, Italy)
Carlo Bagnoli (Department of Management, Università Ca' Foscari, Venice, Italy)

Meditari Accountancy Research

ISSN: 2049-372X

Article publication date: 31 May 2022

Issue publication date: 7 February 2023




This paper aims at exploring how and to what extent universities enlisted Facebook, a social media platform, in the discharging and shaping of their accountability during the COVID-19 emergency.


Drawing on the literature on accountability in the virtual world and crises, a netnographic analysis of the Facebook postings by a sample of Italian universities is performed to identify and interpret the accountability discharged via social media platforms by universities during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Universities used social media in a range of modes, from conveying simple instructions to rendering traditional accountability for their conduct during the crisis. However, in various Facebook postings, they give voice to various stakeholders’ thoughts and experiences, thereby completely reversing the traditional accountability relationship and making the various stakeholders feel included in the university community.

Practical implications

Social media can constitute a useful tool for organizations willing to deploy different modes of accountabilities, according to what is required by the specific situation. In the authors’ case, social media provided a forum for account-sharing during a critical situation that was common to both the account giver and the recipient.


To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this is the first study to investigate the use of social media by universities for accountability purposes and to reveal their possibilities in supporting more ethical forms of accountability.



The authors wish to thank the editors and the anonymous reviewers for their helpful guidance in shaping the article. The authors also wish to thank Lee Parker for his invaluable assistance. All errors are the responsibility of the authors alone.

Funding: The authors received no financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.


Masiero, E., Leoni, G. and Bagnoli, C. (2023), "Account(share)ability through social media during the COVID-19 emergency: the case of universities", Meditari Accountancy Research, Vol. 31 No. 1, pp. 167-186.



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