Although the internet is an indispensable part of everyday life as well as an essential medium of political discourse, governments may struggle to completely black out their repressive actions. Thus, the internet creates a channel through which domestic dissenters stigmatize their own government for its atrocities using political pressure. Given the potential role of the internet in facilitating negative publicity of state repression, we contend that high internet penetration rates have deterring effects on state repression, strongly conditioned on regime characteristics. We find that the antirepression effects of the internet are greater in democracies, particularly in countries with a high level of constraint on executive decision making and a competitive process of executive selection. Our results suggest that extending internet access to citizens will yield protective effects primarily in those countries with already existing institutional restraints on the government.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science
- Political Science and International Relations