Creation, Consumption, and Control of Sensitive Content

41 Pages Posted: 29 Dec 2022

See all articles by Yue Wu

Yue Wu

University of Pittsburgh - Katz Graduate School of Business

Date Written: December 29, 2022


Censorship is widely observed in both developed and developing countries across the globe. Many policymakers and platforms filter out certain sensitive content to reduce its consumption and the corresponding social damage. However, censorship cannot perfectly eliminate all sensitive content, and content creators have various information transmission channels to circumvent censorship systems. In this paper, we construct a game-theoretic model to study creation, consumption, and control of sensitive content. Our paper seeks to answer whether policy interventions such as strengthening censorship can help a social planner reduce social harm caused by the consumption of sensitive content. First, we find that stricter censorship rules can lead to higher social harm. This is because strengthening censorship can motivate creators to choose a more harmful, secret channel rather than a less harmful, open channel to transmit messages. The larger consumption volume of sensitive content in the secret channel can generate greater social damage. We identify the conditions under which the unintended consequence of censorship occurs. Second, our paper shows that when creators need to incur a higher cost upon being censored out, social harm can increase. Third, our paper reveals that raising creators' content creation cost can result in higher damage for the society.

Keywords: censorship, sensitive content, regulation, public policy, game theory

Suggested Citation

Wu, Yue, Creation, Consumption, and Control of Sensitive Content (December 29, 2022). Available at SSRN: or

Yue Wu (Contact Author)

University of Pittsburgh - Katz Graduate School of Business ( email )

Pittsburgh, PA 15260
United States

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