Skip to main content
×
×
Home

Online Social Media and Political Awareness in Authoritarian Regimes

  • Ora John Reuter and David Szakonyi
Abstract

Do online social media undermine authoritarianism? The conditions under which online social networks can increase public awareness of electoral fraud in non-democracies are examined in this article and it is argued that a given online social network will only increase political awareness if it is first politicized by elites. Survey data from the 2011 Russian parliamentary elections show that usage of Twitter and Facebook, which were politicized by opposition elites, significantly increased respondents’ perceptions of electoral fraud, while usage of Russia's domestic social networking platforms, VKontakte and Odnoklassniki, which were not politicized by opposition activists, had no effect on perceptions of fraud. This study elucidates the causes of post-election protest by uncovering a mechanism through which knowledge of electoral fraud spreads.

Copyright
Footnotes
Hide All
*

Department of Political Science, University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee; Department of Political Science, Columbia University (email: ojreuter@gmail.com). This article is an output of a research project implemented as part of the Basic Research Program at the National Research University Higher School of Economics (HSE). Additional research support was provided by the National Council for Eurasian and East European Research and the Social Science Research Council Eurasia Program. Replication files and supplementary appendices for this article can be found on the author's website: https://sites.google.com/site/ojreuter/

Footnotes
References
Hide All
Aday, Sean, Farrell, Henry, Lynch, Marc, Sides, John, Kelly, John, Zuckerman, Ethan. 2010. Blogs and Bullets: New Media in Contentious Politics. Peaceworks. United States Institute of Peace.
Alexanyan, Karina, Barash, Vladimir, Etling, Bruce, Faris, Robert, Gasser, Urs, Kelly, John, Palfrey, John Roberts, Hal. 2012. Exploring Russian Cyberspace: Digitally-Mediated Collective Action and the Networked Public Sphere. Berkman Center Research Publication No. 2012–2, Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University.
Bailard, Catie Snow. 2012. A Field Experiment on the Internet's Effect in an African Election: Savvier Citizens, Disaffected Voters, or Both? Journal of Communication 62 (2):330344.
Bakshy, Eytan, Rosenn, Itamar, Marlow, Cameron, Adamic, Lada. 2012. The Role of Social Networks in Information Diffusion. Arxiv preprint arXiv:1201.4145. Available from http://arxiv.org/abs/1201.4145, accessed July 17, 2012.
Balmforth, Tom , ‘Russian Opposition “Likes” Facebook’. Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, May 18, 2012. Available from http://www.rferl.org/content/russian-opposition-likes-facebook/24585388.html, accessed July 22, 2012.
Beissinger, Mark. 2007. Structure and Example in Modular Political Phenomena: The Diffusion of the Bulldozer/Rose/Orange/Tulip Revolutions. Perspectives on Politics 5 (2):259276.
Boulianne, Shelley. 2009. Does Internet Use Affect Engagement? A Meta-Analysis of Research. Political Communication 26 (2):193211.
Boyd, Danah M Ellison, Nicole. 2007. Social Network Sites: Definition, History, and Scholarship. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication 13 (1):210230.
Campus, Donatella, Pasquino, Gianfranco Vaccari, Cristian. 2008. Social Networks, Political Discussion, and Voting in Italy: A Study of the 2006 Election. Political Communication 25 (4):423444.
Cottle, Simon. 2011. Media and the Arab Uprisings of 2011: Research Notes. Journalism 12 (5):647659.
De Vreese, Claes Boomgaarden, Hajo. 2006. News, Political Knowledge and Participation: The Differential Effects of News Media Exposure on Political Knowledge and Participation. Acta Politica 41 (4):317341.
Deibert, Ronald Rohozinski, Rafal. 2010. Beyond Denial: Introducing Next Generation Access Controls. in Deibert, Ronald, et al. eds., Access Controlled: The Shaping of Power, Rights, and Rule in Cyberspace. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.
Enikolopov, Ruben, Korovkin, Vasily, Petrova, Maria, Sonin, Konstantin Zakharov, Alexei. 2013. Electoral Fraud in Russian Parliamentary Elections in December 2011: Evidence from a Field Experiment. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 110 (2):448452.
Eveland, William P. Scheufele, Dietram A.. 2000. Connecting News Media Use with Gaps in Knowledge and Participation. Political Communication 17 (3):215237.
Farrell, Henry. 2012. The Consequences of the Internet for Politics. Annual Review of Political Science 15 (1):3552.
Gajora, Liviu. 2011. Effects of Internet Use on Actual and Self-perceived Political Knowledge, Issue Certainty and Political Participation. Master's dissertation. Available from http://wakespace.lib.wfu.edu/jspui/bitstream/10339/33436/1/Gajora_wfu_0248M_10096.pdf, accessed July 22, 2012.
Gil De Zuniga, Homero, Puig-I-Abril, Eulalia Rojas, Hernando. 2009. Weblogs, Traditional Sources Online and Political Participation: An Assessment of How the Internet Is Changing the Political Environment. New Media & Society 11 (4):553574.
Greene, Samuel. 2012. Twitter and the Russian Street: Memes, Networks & Mobilization. CNMS Working Paper 2012/1. Center for the Study of New Media and Society, Moscow.
Groshek, Jacob Dimitrova, Daniela. 2011. A Cross-Section of Voter Learning, Campaign Interest and Intention to Vote in the 2008 American Election: Did Web 2.0 Matter? Communication Studies Journal 9:355375.
Howard, Phillip Hussain, Muzammil. 2011. The Role of Digital Media. Journal of Democracy 22 (3):3548.
Huckfeldt, Robert Sprague, John. 1995. Citizens, Politics, and Social Communication: Information and Influence in an Election Campaign. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Kalathil, Shanthi Boas, Taylor. 2003. Open Networks, Closed Regimes: The Impact of the Internet on Authoritarian Rule. Washington, D.C.: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
Kaufhold, Kelly, Valenzuela, Sebastian Gil de Zúñiga, Homero. 2010. Citizen Journalism and Democracy: How User-Generated News Use Relates to Political Knowledge and Participation. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly 87:515529.
Kuran, Timur. 1991. Now Out of Never: The Element of Surprise in the East European Revolution of 1989. World Politics 44 (1):748.
Lessig, Lawrence. 1999. Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace. New York, N.Y.: Basic Books.
Lynch, Marc. 2011. After Egypt: The Limits and Promise of Online Challenges to the Authoritarian Arab State. Perspectives on Politics 9 (2):301310.
Miller, Joanne Krosnick, Jon. 2000. News Media Impact on the Ingredients of Presidential Evaluations: Politically Knowledgeable Citizens Are Guided by a Trusted Source. American Journal of Political Science 44 (2):301315.
Miner, Luke 2011. The Unintended Consequences of Internet Diffusion: Evidence from Malaysia. Unpublished Job Market Paper, 1–71.
Morozov, Evgeny. 2011. The Net Delusion: The Dark Side of Internet Freedom. New York: Public Affairs.
Mullainathan, Sendhil Shleifer, Andrei. 2005. The Market for News. American Economic Review 95 (4):10311053.
Pasek, Josh, More, Eian Romer, Daniel. 2009. Realizing the Social Internet? Online Social Networking Meets Offline Civic Engagement. Journal of Information Technology & Politics 6:34.
Prior, Markus. 2005. News v. Entertainment: How Increasing Media Choice Widens Gaps in Political Knowledge and Turnout. American Journal of Political Science 49 (3):594609.
Reuter, Ora John. 2011. United Russia and the 2011 Elections. Russian Analytical Digest 102 September, 26.
Shirky, Clay. 2011. The Political Power of Social Media. Foreign Affairs January/February: 1–9.
Siegel, David. 2008. Social Networks and Collective Action. American Journal of Political Science 53 (1):122138.
Sunstein, Cass. 2002. Republic.com. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press.
Swigger, Nathaniel. 2012. The Online Citizen: Is Social Media Changing Citizens’ Beliefs about Democratic Values? Political Behavior, forthcoming.
Thompson, Mark Kuntz, Phillipp. 2004. Stolen Elections: The Case of the Serbian October. Journal of Democracy 15:159172.
Tonkin, Emma, Pfeiffer, Heather Tourte, Greg. 2012. Twitter, Information Sharing and the London Riots. Bulletin of the American Society for Information Science and Technology 38 (2):4957.
Tucker, Joshua. 2007. Enough! Electoral Fraud, Collective Action Problems, and Post-communist Colored Revolutions. Perspectives on Politics 5 (3):535551.
Tufekci, Zeynep Wilson, Christopher. 2012. Social Media and the Decision to Participate in Political Protest: Observations from Tahrir Square. Journal of Communication 62 (2):363379.
Yang, Jaewon, Leskovec, Jure. 2010. Modeling Information Diffusion in Implicit Networks. Data Mining (ICDM), 2010 IEEE 10th International Conference), 599–608.
Zaller, John. 1992. The Nature and Origins of Mass Opinion. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

British Journal of Political Science
  • ISSN: 0007-1234
  • EISSN: 1469-2112
  • URL: /core/journals/british-journal-of-political-science
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×
Type Description Title
WORD
Supplementary materials

Reuter Supplementary Material
Appendix Table

 Word (2.4 MB)
2.4 MB
UNKNOWN
Supplementary materials

Reuter Supplementary Material
Supplementary Material

 Unknown (242 KB)
242 KB
UNKNOWN
Supplementary materials

Reuter Supplementary Material
Supplementary Material

 Unknown (4 KB)
4 KB

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed