Limiting the Market for Information as a Tool of Governance: Evidence from Russia

32 Pages Posted: 1 Apr 2017 Last revised: 16 Aug 2017

See all articles by Klaus Ackermann

Klaus Ackermann

Cetner for Data Science and Public Policy, University of Chicago; Monash University - Department of Economics

Date Written: August 2017

Abstract

This paper presents a novel measure of subtle government intervention in the news market achieved by throttling the Internet. In countries where the news media is highly regulated and censored, the free distribution of information (including auto and any visual imagery) over the Internet is often seen as a threat to the legitimacy of the ruling regime. This study compares electoral outcomes at polling station level between the Russian presidential election at the beginning of March 2012 with the parliamentary election held three months earlier in December 2011. Electoral regions in two cases are compared: regions that experienced internet censorship at the presidential election but not the parliamentary election; versus regions that maintained a good internet connection without interference for both elections. Internet censorship is identified using randomised internet probing data in accuracies down to 15-minute intervals for up to a year before the election. Using a difference in difference design, an average effect of increased vote share of 3.2 percentage point for the government candidate is found due to internet throttling. Results are robust to different specifications and electoral controls are used to account for the possibility of vote rigging.

Suggested Citation

Ackermann, Klaus, Limiting the Market for Information as a Tool of Governance: Evidence from Russia (August 2017). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2943193

Klaus Ackermann (Contact Author)

Cetner for Data Science and Public Policy, University of Chicago

5735 S Ellis Ave
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

Monash University - Department of Economics ( email )

Australia

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