Thursday, April 15, 2021
4:00pm – 5:30pm
Register here to join the webinar.
The fast-growing body of research on internet censorship has examined the effects of censoring selective pieces of political information and the unintended consequences of censorship of entertainment. However, we know very little about the broader consequences of coarse censorship or censorship that affects a large array of information such as an entire website or search engine. In this study, we use China’s complete block of Chinese language Wikipedia (zh.wikipedia.org) on May 19, 2015, to disaggregate the effects of coarse censorship on proactive consumption of information—information users seek out—and on incidental consumption of information—information users are not actively seeking but consume when they happen to come across it. We quantify the effects of censorship of Wikipedia not only on proactive information consumption but also on opportunities for exploration and incidental consumption of information. We find that users from mainland China were much more likely to consume information on Wikipedia about politics and history incidentally rather than proactively, suggesting that the effects of censorship on incidental information access may be politically significant.
This work was done in partnership with Jennifer Pan, Assistant Professor of Communication at Stanford University.