Online News and Protest Participation in a Political Context: Evidence from Self-Reported Cross-Sectional Data
Availability of alternative information through social media, in particular, and digital media, in general, is often said to induce social discontent, especially in states where traditional media are under government control. But does this relation really exist, and is it generalizable? This article explores the relationship between self-reported online news consumption and protest participation across 48 nations in 2010–2014. Based on multilevel regression models and simulations, the analysis provides evidence that those respondents who reported that they had attended a protest at least once read news online daily or weekly. The study also shows that the magnitude of the effect varies depending on the political context: surprisingly, despite supposedly unlimited control of offline and online media, autocratic countries demonstrated higher effects of online news than transitional regimes, where the Internet media are relatively uninhibited.