The effect of social media on press freedom and government accountability
Koçak, Korhan (2014) The effect of social media on press freedom and government accountability. [Thesis]
We analyze a political agency model in which the voters can only observe the type of the incumbent through the signals published by the media outlets. The incumbent may offer transfers to media outlets in order for them to suppress the news about him. When not every outlet is captured, the voters who follow the informative outlet may choose to spread the news via social media in a global game setting. We show that this model has a unique equilibrium in which press freedom and voter welfare are in general increasing in social connectedness (which we define as a combination of internet usage rate and social capital). The exceptions arise when an incumbent who would otherwise only capture some media outlets is forced by the risk of news spreading via social media to capture all of them. We then examine a dataset that includes indices of press freedom and corruption for 172 countries to test our hypotheses.
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