Internet Regulation Media Coverage in Russia: Topics and Countries
Russia first introduced Internet regulation in 2012 with site blockings and then progressed to personal data retention and ban on VPNs. This makes an interesting case because online media had spread and established a parallel political agenda in Russia in the 2000s, before the onset of regulations. The focus of this study is the contents and dynamics of media coverage of Internet regulation in Russia over years, particularly the topics covered and the countries involved. It uses topic modeling and social network analysis to analyze 6,140 texts from Russia's largest mass media collection. The automatic modeling approach helps obtain reproducible evidence on the structure and actors of the otherwise highly politicized discourse. The study demonstrated, first, the growing interest of Russian media to Internet regulation, with comparable shares of state-controlled and private media in this discourse. Second, it revealed the structure of 50 topics arranging into nine clusters, from gambling to international relations, with one dominant network segment spanning over five clusters. Third, it identified groups of countries by their appearance in the texts and co-appearance in one text as 'communities' of countries that can 'put on the map' the discourse on certain topics of Internet regulation in Russia.