IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/cpr/ceprdp/11778.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Why Does China Allow Freer Social Media? Protests versus Surveillance and Propaganda

Author

Listed:
  • Qin, Bei
  • Str�mberg, David
  • Wu, Yanhui

Abstract

This paper documents basic facts regarding public debates about controversial political issues on Chinese social media. Our documentation is based on a dataset of 13.2 billion blog posts published on Sina Weibo - the most prominent Chinese microblogging platform- during the 2009-2013 period. Our primary finding is that a shockingly large number of posts on highly sensitive topics were published and circulated on social media. For instance, we find millions of posts discussing protests and an even larger number of posts with explicit corruption allegations. This content may spur and organize protests. However, it also makes social media effective tools for surveillance. We find that most protests can be predicted one day before their occurrence and that corruption charges of specific individuals can be predicted one year in advance. Finally, we estimate that our data contain 600,000 government-affiliated accounts which contribute 4% of all posts about political and economic issues on Sina Weibo. The share of government accounts is larger in areas with a higher level of internet censorship and where newspapers have a stronger pro-government bias. Overall, our findings suggest that the Chinese government regulates social media to balance threats to regime stability against the benefits of utilizing bottom-up information.

Suggested Citation

  • Qin, Bei & Str�mberg, David & Wu, Yanhui, 2017. "Why Does China Allow Freer Social Media? Protests versus Surveillance and Propaganda," CEPR Discussion Papers 11778, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:11778
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=11778
    Download Restriction: CEPR Discussion Papers are free to download for our researchers, subscribers and members. If you fall into one of these categories but have trouble downloading our papers, please contact us at subscribers@cepr.org

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version below or search for a different version of it.

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Acemoglu, Daron & Hassan, Tarek & Tahoun, Ahmed, 2014. "The Power of the Street: Evidence from Egypt's Arab Spring," CEPR Discussion Papers 10262, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    2. Maja Adena & Ruben Enikolopov & Maria Petrova & Veronica Santarosa & Ekaterina Zhuravskaya, 2015. "Radio and the Rise of The Nazis in Prewar Germany," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 130(4), pages 1885-1939.
    3. Stefano Della Vigna & Ruben Enikolopov & Vera Mironova & Maria Petrova & Ekaterina Zhuravskaya, 2014. "Cross-Border Media and Nationalism: Evidence from Serbian Radio in Croatia," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 6(3), pages 103-132, July.
    4. Adena, Maja & Enikolopov, Ruben & Petrova, Maria & Santarosa, Veronica & Zhuravskaya, Ekaterina, 2013. "Radio and the rise of Nazi in pre-war Germany," Annual Conference 2013 (Duesseldorf): Competition Policy and Regulation in a Global Economic Order 79876, Verein für Socialpolitik / German Economic Association.
    5. Chris Edmond, 2013. "Information Manipulation, Coordination, and Regime Change," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 80(4), pages 1422-1458.
    6. repec:cup:apsrev:v:103:y:2009:i:04:p:645-668_99 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. Enikolopov, Ruben & Makarin, Alexey & Petrova, Maria, 2016. "Social Media and Protest Participation: Evidence from Russia," CEPR Discussion Papers 11254, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Kodila-Tedika, Oasis, 2018. "Natural Resource Governance: Does Social Media Matter?," MPRA Paper 84809, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • L82 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Entertainment; Media
    • O14 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Industrialization; Manufacturing and Service Industries; Choice of Technology
    • O17 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Formal and Informal Sectors; Shadow Economy; Institutional Arrangements
    • P23 - Economic Systems - - Socialist Systems and Transition Economies - - - Factor and Product Markets; Industry Studies; Population
    • P26 - Economic Systems - - Socialist Systems and Transition Economies - - - Political Economy
    • Z13 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Economic Sociology; Economic Anthropology; Language; Social and Economic Stratification

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:11778. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.