In September 2017 Transport for London announced that Uber was to lose it license to operate in London. In response the ridesharing company started to actively campaign for their continued existence in the British capital. Other than starting a petition, the company used its Twitter account to actively argue why it should stay operational. At the same time the wider news media, specifically newspapers, started to also discuss these occurrences with seemingly similar talking points as Uber used in its tweets. This study therefore aims to answer the question: Was Uber’s Twitter communication during their London license-crisis effective in setting the agenda to its benefit in major British news publications? To answer this question this study conducts a thematic analysis on the tweets sent by @UberUK over a 7-month period. The discovered themes are thereafter applied to newspapers articles discussing Uber and published during the same period by the UK’s four largest papers. The study finds that both the tweets sent by Uber, as well as the news articles discussing Uber increased significantly right after the announcement by Transport for London. The qualitative analysis also shows that this increase in published tweets and news articles can both be attributed to the discussion of the conflict between Uber and London’s transport authority. Finally, even though agenda setting remains a concept that is difficult to measure, based on the findings in this study we can conclude that Uber was successful in setting the agenda in major British news publications during their London license-crisis. Other than these findings this study provides interesting insights regarding corporate reputation, online activism and stakeholderism.

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Dr. H.J.C.J. Hitters
Media & Business
Erasmus School of History, Culture and Communication

Lucas van Lint. (2020, November 4). The use of Twitter by corporations for agenda-setting in the media. The conflict between Transport for London and Uber. Media & Business. Retrieved from