Which Social Media Facilitate Online Public Opinion in China?
34 Pages Posted: 21 Sep 2015
Date Written: July 2015
The Chinese Internet provides space for political discussion while also being manipulated and controlled at the same time. Current research on media control in China has focused on the institutional and technological infrastructure that monitors and censors the content of political discussion online. We propose that the social media companies also play a key role in creating technological settings that facilitate different kinds of political discussion. Why does online public opinion seem to rise in some social media more easily than in others? Building on research on authoritarian deliberation we are describing spaces for political discussion in Chinese cyberspace in terms of interactivity, which results in different forms of political discussion. Drawing on semi-structured qualitative expert interviews with ICT professionals at Tencent, Weibo, and Baidu we explain how major social media differ in terms of their structure and the company’s motivation. We specify which features are more likely to facilitate the rise of online public opinion in Chinese social media.
Keywords: China, authoritarianism, deliberation, Internet, social media, public opinion, political participation, interactivity
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