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Article

The Effect of Online News on Protest Participation in a Political Context: Evidence from Self-Reported Cross-Sectional Data

Kirkizh N., Koltsova O.

Availability of alternative information is often said to induce social discontent and to give rise to protest forms of political participation. But does this relation really exist, and is it universal? In contrast to previous studies, where generalized Internet use is most often a proxy for online information consumption and general political participation is a proxy for protest participation, we render a test of relationship specifically between online news consumption and protest participation. We explore self-reported cross-sectional data for 48 nations. The analysis provides empirical evidence that the likelihood of individual protest participation is positively associated with online news consumption. The study also shows that the magnitude of the effect varies depending on a political context: surprisingly, despite total control offline as well as online media, autocratic countries demonstrated effects of online news higher than in hybrid regimes where civilians usually have the access to Internet media that provide information which is alternative to the pro-government news agenda.