Comparative Politics

Comparative Politics

Crisis is a Gateway to Censored Information: The Case of Coronavirus in China

Zachary Steinert-Threlkeld Author ORCID home | opens in new tab University of California, Los Angeles
,
William Hobbs Cornell University
,
Keng-chi Chang University of California, San Diego
,
Margaret Roberts University of California, San Diego
Abstract
Crisis and anxiety motivate people to track news closely. We examine the consequences of this increased motivation in authoritarian regimes that normally exert significant control over access to media. Using the case of the COVID-19 outbreak in China, we show that crisis spurs censorship circumvention to access international news and political content on websites blocked in China. Once individuals have circumvented censorship, they not only receive more information about the crisis itself, but the crisis becomes a gateway to unrelated information that the regime has long censored. Through this mechanism, crisis both increases attention to information relevant to individuals’ cur- rent circumstances and incidentally increases access to information that the regime considers sensitive.
Content
Thumbnail image of content item
Comments
Log in using your APSA account or Register to comment
Comments are not moderated before they are posted, but they can be removed by the site moderators if they are found to be in contravention of our Commenting Policy – please read this policy before you post. Comments should be used for scholarly discussion of the content in question. You can find more information about how to use the commenting feature here .
This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.