Signaling silence: Affective and cognitive responses to risks of online activism about corruption in an authoritarian context

Date
2022
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Source Title
New Media & Society
Print ISSN
1461-4448
Electronic ISSN
1461-7315
Publisher
SAGE
Volume
0
Issue
0
Pages
1 - 19
Language
English
Type
Article
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Abstract

Networked authoritarian governments’ use of digital repression creates uncertainty and amplifies risk signals for ordinary citizens using social media for political expression. Employing theoretical frameworks from the risk and decision-making literature, we experimentally examine how citizens perceive and respond to the risks of low-effort forms of online activism in an authoritarian context. Our online field experiment demonstrates that emotional responses to the regime’s risk signals about online activism drive decisionmaking about contentious online political expression as compared with cognitive appraisal of risk. Moreover, the relationship between anticipatory emotions and contentious online political expression varies significantly depending on individuals’ involvement with the controversial topic of expression. We discuss the importance of emotions and citizen risk judgments for understanding online activism within networked authoritarian contexts.

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Keywords
authoritarianism, digital repression, online activism, political expression, risk perceptions, social media
Citation
Published Version (Please cite this version)